Nun Gooner/Courtesy Photo

Rebecca Ezrin is a journalism junior and Mustang News study abroad columnist in Chiang Mai, Thailand. With many class field trips and personal trips planned, her adventures are virtually endless. She aims to share her authentic experiences and what she has learned. She recently stayed overnight in a Hilltribes village, the Hmong village.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

Located in the highlands of northern Thailand, this jungle surrounding the Hmong village provides food and medicine for the Hmong people. 

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

A strawberry field is harvested in the mountains of the Hmong village. Since opium became illegal in 1959, the Hmong people began growing fruits and vegetables as the base of their economy. This reformation, known as The Royal Project, was set up by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1969. 

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Salmee Prakolsit teaches students how the Hmong people cut down trees and crops, which is done during the rainy season in order to prepare for their ‘slash and burn’ agricultural technique. 

Joon Pongsak Rattanawong/Courtesy Photo

Students eat cucumbers grown in the Hmong village. When crops like cucumbers are picked for the rainy season, they are carried down to the main village in baskets. “The reason Hmong people are so short is from carrying baskets all the time,” tour guide Win Lerdchaisahakul said.

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Prakolsit shares some uses of bamboo with students. “When you try to kill a poisonous snake, you hit it in the head with bamboo. If you try to cut its head off, it will fly toward you and bite you,” Prakolsit said. 

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

Prakolsit overlooks the Hmong village. “There are four tigers out there. They are our friends,” Prakolsit said.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

Students gather and carry wood to bring back to the main village in order to prepare a campfire. 

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Back in the main village, a woman outlines the beginning of a traditional Hmong tapestry.

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A boy plays outside of his home. 

Joon Pongsak Rattanawong/Courtesy Photo

Prior to an all-day hike, students gather around the campfire as Lerdchaisahakul shares some of the beliefs held by his tribe. “I believe that every person has a different image of God, but my real belief is in the human body,” Lerdchaisahakul said. “The main religion here is our ancestors and the circle of life.” 

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Before students part ways for the night to join their host-families, a woman in traditional attire shares a unique Hmong instrument of communication. 

Nun Gooner/Courtesy Photo

A host-mother cooks dinner for her guests.

Joon Pongsak Rattanawong/Courtesy Photo

Sunrise rolls over the Hmong village.

Lauren Hamilton/Courtesy Photo

A rooster, along with many others, awakens the village.

Sumya Paung/Courtesy Photo

As a goodbye gift, a Hmong man does a prayer over students to grant them spiritual protection from the Shaman, their spiritual healer. “You are not tourists anymore, you are family. We are proud that we could exchange ideas and experiences so we can better see the world. We have only one word for you: Ua tsaug wa chow, thank you,” Lerdchaisahakul said.

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