Last month when I was visiting Japan, I had some time until the last seminar, so I went on a 4-night 5-day visit to Chiang Mai, Thailand.
It is about an hour north of Bangkok by airplane, and compared to Bangkok, it’s a village, but the ancient city of Chiang Mai is a slow-paced, pleasant town.
The goal of this travel was trekking and visiting the hill tribes (Lahu, Akha, Lisu, Karen).
I walked the mountains and jungles north of Chiang Mai and also the flatlands visiting those villages.
People live in houses with grass roofs and elevated floors so they were not suited for Feng Shui assessment. However, observing each tribe’s village made me think of the correlation between “humans and the environment”.
Walking in the mountains, countless times, I saw plastic bottles, empty cans and empty snack bags scattered around. I thought disrespectful tourists threw away their garbage, however, it was actually the villagers that were trashing.
Come to think about it, I did start noticing the trash around the village entrance. To that, the guide simply said, “Whatever it is, residents here throw away their trash outside of their dwelling area”.
When I entered the village, I saw a dried up village house (hut?) as well as noticed how the area was trashed. Garbage was everywhere, even on the roads, and there was no sense of cleanliness at all.
Since this is a tropical area, I saw remnants of the slash and burn agriculture but since they cannot perform shifting cultivation and perhaps because they have been burning their land over and over again in a short period of time, I could not even feel the energy from the ground.
People living here seem to have an attitude of neglect. Even dogs are constantly barking and I feel like I will contract rabies if any of them bites me…however, even though economically they are not wealthy, people’s houses are clean, their property full of greenery and well-kept, and people are full of smiles. Some of the villagers are even washing down the well-paved roads with water.
We were able to spend our time very comfortably, especially at the Lisu tribe lodge we stayed at, as the young Lisu people were very focused on working hard.
Many of the hill tribes have escaped wars and persecution that are happening near the Burma and Laos borders.
Most are poor and it is not uncommon for children to not be able to receive a higher education. In addition, there are those that cannot obtain a Thai citizenship, therefore, cannot receive medical services either.
Traditionally, their cash income came from cultivating poppy which is the raw material necessary to create narcotics, however, they are currently shifting to agriculture because of the movement to eliminate drug trafficking.
However, there are still many villages that are suffering from poverty.
I am not sure which took precedence – people that were affected by living on bad soil or how people’s lifestyles and habits have changed the land to one without energy – but this trip made me feel once again, how the land and humans living on that land, strongly affect each other.