Amazing Aka village

Louang Namtha Travel Blog

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2 Aka girls

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).

Aka children in their village near Luang Nam Tha
We were pretty horrified to find out that the only travel agent wanted $150 for 2 days for the 2 of us, so decided we would try to go to the local tourism office the following 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.

Me and the Aka children, in their village near Luang Nam Tha
At first we thought they would send us back, but soon we realised that they were just curious why the hell we were out there! This made us even more positive that we had gone the wrong way, but after a guy helped us across a mini bridge made from a couple of bamboo poles, we decided we should try to go a little further, the scenery was breathtaking after all.

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.

Aka village near Luang Nam Tha
It soon became apparent that the villages men and children had gathered to watch one of their own guys try to drive a brand new motorbike up and down the road. My guess is that they had been given this in exchange for the road been allowed to be built past their village.

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.

Aka children in their village near Luang Nam Tha
Whilst this was happening, another group of children had gathered around Julia, intrigued by a brochure of the area, that she had brought out of the rucksack. Some of the kids were more interested in her though, just wanting to touch her! This really seemed to be the ice breaker though and within seconds, kids wanted to be in pictures and see what they looked like. The whole experience was unlike anything i'd ever sampled and i can't imagine visiting anywhere so close to 'civilisation' that at the same time felt so far removed. We sadly agreed that with the new road being built, very few people would get to enjoy the same experience.

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.

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2 Aka girls
2 Aka girls
Aka children in their village near…
Aka children in their village nea…
Me and the Aka children, in their …
Me and the Aka children, in their…
Aka village near Luang Nam Tha
Aka village near Luang Nam Tha
Aka children in their village near…
Aka children in their village nea…
That Phum Phuk stupa
That Phum Phuk stupa
Julia having a romantic dance
Julia having a romantic dance
Easy rider...
Easy rider...
Julia on the motorbike with the Ak…
Julia on the motorbike with the A…
Aka village
Aka village
Aka children in their village near…
Aka children in their village nea…
Aka children in their village near…
Aka children in their village nea…
Scenery around Luang Nam Tha
Scenery around Luang Nam Tha
Black Thai village and rice field …
Black Thai village and rice field…
2 Local Black Thai village girls
2 Local Black Thai village girls
A monk on the road from Luang Nam …
A monk on the road from Luang Nam…
Louang Namtha
photo by: edsander