we want to visit one or more of the hill tribes north of the city. unfortunately, our thai guide brings us to the sites set up for tourists. even so, I gladly parted with my thai money, knowing that for most of these people, that tourist dollar is the bulk of their meagre income.
one particular experience leaves me a sad. our tour guide is a likeable enough older gentleman, conversant in english, and with a deep knowledge of history. however, at one of the “village sites” of the “long-necked people” the padaung, he stands beside people and speaks of them as if they are objects in a museum. i am shocked by the manner in which he easily reaches over, and removes a large plug earring from a woman working at a loom without even acknowledging her. the look on her face as she glances at him echoes my disgust at the action. numerous suggestions by the guide for us to pose with the “villagers” (mostly sleepy children working in craft booths) and take pictures of each other are finally quietened when I say that we do not take pictures of people. he probably wondered what sort of odd folk we were at not taking pics of people, as I am sure he would never understand how the dehumanization that this village presents disturbed us.
a drive into the mountains and a walk into dark, damp caverns unearthed 400 years ago, marks the afternoon. one of the best bowls of soup I on the face of the earth J is found at a rather ‘iffy” outdoor restaurant near the caves. mmmm…..i still remember the deceptively simple hot broth of fresh milk steeped with red ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, onions, and chunks of tender chicken….