Hmong village at Doi Pui
There are a number of hill tribes living in the mountaineous regions of northern Thailand. Many have been displaced by war, drug trafficing, and other strife in their native homelands. Most of them have lost their traditional lifestyles to the effects of modernization and tourism. We visited a Hmong village on Doi Suthep mountain, near the Royal Palace (see photo at left.) The people are obviously poor, but seemed cheerful and friendly. There were few tourists on the day we visited (mainly Thai), but most of the small shops were open anyway. The people sell a mix of local handicrafts and manufactured goods. We bought a bedspread decorated with elephants.
The people at Doi Pui have built a small replica of a traditional Hmong village follow the signs to the waterfall. They charge 7 baht (17 ¢) for admission. Some of the tribespeople make a little money by posing in their traditional costumes for photographs with the tourists. It may seem unreasonable for someone to insist on being paid to be in a photograph, but the people in this village have few other opportunities. And, of course, models and actors in Western nations do the same, although they demand a much greater amount of money. Tourism helps to support the hill tribes while at the same time it promotes changes that have helped to destroy their traditional lifestyles. It is a difficult situation. The government of Thailand is working hard to find a solution.
Here are a few more photos from the Hmong village at Doi Pui:
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