Just back from a trip worthy of a quick note to you. I've been a little 'slower' on reporting of late (intrigued by 'entertain me'
lobbers; enjoying those who respond). I've a good friend here - Stu Lloyd - we meet regularly at the local pub to watch the rugby tests & after 6 or more months learnt that we went to the same bloody school (R'view). We left decades apart; though you wouldn't know it looking at us!!!
Stu is a gregarious chap & through a (Lisu) contact, Mimi, 'put us onto' a gathering of the Lisu hill-tribe that was to take place way up in the isolated mountains of northern Thailand. We left early on our motorbikes, caught Stu who'd been covering the King's Cup Elephant Polo & rode to the Lisu village. They are an exceptionally proud tribe, super competitive/always wish to win, & they dress in a mind-boggling array of colour (yep Myriama is in 7th heaven). We lobbed in to the village & there they were thousands & thousands of them all dressed in traditional costume; an unforgetable sea of colour. Mimi explained the ceremonies - offerings to the guardian spirit, the endless dancing, indeed who could dance with who & why, the musical instruments made from bamboo, & various large seeds........
It was a picture frenzy. Time flew as our jaws dropped & our cameras clicked. A major ceremony was marked for 7pm, when Myriama's nose 'smelt rain'. We were miles away from any town, any accommodation (the thatched huts of the Lisu were already bursting from the seams with the thousands of Lisu that had descended on the village). We jumped on the bikes & bolted - what a ride it was - a full moon, the rain clouds rushing about the moon, the winds literally howling over the mountain tops pushing the bikes sideways. Down & down we rode through scenery made even more magnificent by the eerie light of a full moon. We reached 'civilisation' some 40 minutes later, filled the bikes with petrol & down it came - what a storm; we sat in the dry at the pertrol station for an hour.
Stayed at a resort we were told over dinner had 'monsters' We arrived to hear the 'ung ang' (spelling) belching out this most horrible sound from the waterfall/river. With our wedding anniversary approaching, being a romantic (as are all Ozzies), took the bride for a surprise trip to the 'Switzerland of Thailand' (Doi Ang Khang) - good spot to chill out - cool all year round, nice hotel, area grows temperate climate fruit & vegies, magic garden......
Its also smack on the border with Burma, so I had to see if I ride out along the border. Rode out past a Lahu tribal village & into a Palong Village where the Thai army were stationed & the road closed by the military - two sizeable, fortfified posts of the Burmesse army directly opposite atop strategic hills. I tried talking the armed guards into letting me past, then the officers in the outpost up above. Part of the reason I wished to take the road (despite its absolutely deplorable condition), was because I'd read old articles where people rode (forget the car!) the rode because it simply defied any logic that any engineer could build a road with such a steep gradiant - I've no idea of the nunbers but its STEEP! For some reason just before 5pm I got the go ahead ('be back by 6', I was told) - its a great sense of freedom to be riding out in such a place under such conditions. Passed a couple of control points - its very much military with arms flag you down, tell you to stop your bike & get off; ask for i/d, where you are heading, search you & the bike.......Eventually you get the officer in charge & chat your way to be let go further. A great ride; must explore some more.
I spoke of the Palong tribe - these guys (2000 of them) fled into Thailand from Burma in 1984; they are the only Palong in Thailand. It is absolutely MAGIC to see them working the fields in their traditional hand-woven attire - fantastic full-length red dresses, very colourful short cut jackets embroided with silver & tassels, belts of silver & other natural fibres...... They dont speak any english - the only phrase they seemed to know was: "I love you" (with lots of giggling) which was fine from the younger girls but not so flattering from the occassional older woman with missing teeth a mouth stained from betel-nut!
I had to take Myriama back the next day.......she has a rare touch; within minutes Myriama was hand in hand with one younger Palong, with her other arm around an older woman as we strolled off through the village to the home of the younger girl's grandparents (aged 82 & 84) for Myriama to buy some jackets.
Time to go