Amazing Aka village
Louang Namtha Travel Blog› entry 117 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Juliana (Russia)
We spent an entire day going from Muang Ngoi to Luang Nam Tha, which equated to 11 hours to travel less than 200km! The roads were extremely hilly and we spent part of our journey crammed into the back of a sawngthaew, in conditions that cattle wouldn't relish. Still, we reminisced that if we were in Cambodia there would have been at least twice as many people in there with us!
When we got to Luang Nam Tha, a thunderstorm was just beginning, which we were lucky enough to take shelter from in a restaurant. Once it had passed we went to ask about the well publicised Eco treks, that we were told were very cheap (approx $10 a day).
The next day we found the tourism office was closed, so we decided just to hire a motorbike and drive to some villages listed on the hand drawn map we had bought. We firstly stopped at That Thum Phuk stupa, which had been destroyed during the second indochinese war, with a new monument erected beside it. After this, we headed across an extremely steep mountain pass, where our map said an ethnic Aka village was located. After about 30 minutes with not another vehicle in site, the road began to disintegrate and we encountered a large group of workmen in bulldozers, vans, cranes etc actually building the road.
Just as it seemed that our attempts were in vain, Julia spotted a village clung to the hillside. We drove the bike down and were flabagasted that the entire Aka village appeared to have gathered to greet us! Surely not. Who could have tipped them off? As we approached, many young children ran up to smile and shout 'sabadiy'. We felt completely lost and weren't really sure whether to turn around or try and have a look around.
Still unsure what to do and feeling a little bit out of place, we showed a child our empty water bottle and he raced off to fill it up. Right, ice broken. Next step, i got out my Laos Lonely Planet and opened it up to the pictures. Within 2 seconds of showing one little boy, i was surrounded not only by the children, but by all the village men! I decided to tear the pictures out and gave them to the people, who were all trying to grab them and get a look. It was a pretty wierd feeling, i can only imagine what it must be like giving starving villages food rations.
On our way back to Luang Nam Tha we stopped at a Black Thai village, which seemed like a metropolis in comparison, with an abundance of shops and restaurants. On a normal day, this would have been a great experience in itself, as the children were really friendly here too. But somehow, everything else seemed to pale into insignificane, with what we had just experienced with the Aka village. A bit of a downer was seeing the road a little further on had experienced a fresh motorbike crash. We couldn't see a body and hoped it was just the bike that had been wrecked. This however seemed unlikely.