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Thailand Photos: Sangklaburi in Kanchanaburi - walk and Karen village home stay (09 - 13 September 2006)

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Flooded forest
Large area of the forest was flooded with overflowing streams and rain waters flowing down the hills in high speed. Where there used to be no stream and river in the dry season were now under water. Only local villagers would travel during this time.

Paddy farms of Laiwo Karen village
Just before 4 p.m. or nearly 4 hours after leaving Sanepong village we were nearing our destination of the day: Laiwo village. Sight of paddy fields told us we were not far from people and their houses. Most of the paddy or rice farms use slash and burn method which, in the past, (city) people accused of stripping down the natural forest. However after decades of research it was later understood that was one of the few most suitable farming (for own consumption) methods for these places. One obvious proof was even after several hundreds of years that local hilltribe people have been making their living, there were still healthy forest cover and sizable wildlife on this land of the hills.

On the other hand, in the places closeby the paved highways where some people bought large areas of land and established so-called high technological farming many mountains have been shaved to bare earth within a decade.

Village dinner
Village home dinner. After entering the small village we looked for the headman house. The village head was not present as he was in another village called Salawa - two hours walk to the north. We stayed at the house of the school teacher - a wooden house part of which was still under construction. After an hour of talking we had our simple delicious village dinner of mountain rice, mushroom, bamboo shoots, fish paste and other green vegetable prepared by the host.

The food intake of the villagers was limited. They have rice, vegetable and chillies from their farms, mushrooms and bamboo shoots from the forest, fish from the rivers. Few houses have small artificial ponds keeping fresh water fish for eating. Few villagers own cows and or buffalos. For their houses they have bamboo and wood from the forest. To get money income they have only a narrow range of products: small amount of farm produce and forest products, and handicrafts. Some villagers find works in town to send money back home. Little number of tourists make another small income for those who accept visitors at home, and those who work as porters and trail guides.

We went to bed around 8 p.m. on that night.

A house in Laiwo village
A village house in Laiwo. In the dry season four wheel drive trucks come to the village to buy things such as bamboo. They also bring in corrugated sheets and other building materials, housewhold items, food stuff and so on. Solar power cell plates and batteries are provided by government and other organizations.

Village primary school
Laiwo has a small primary school where children come and study Thai language and other basic subjects. It may be possible to make a small amount of donation of books and writing materials. However as one villager put it, if possible they want opportunities to learn, work and earn income to purchase things they need. According to him they, albeit almost never spoken, believe frequent donations of so many little and big things and services to the poors during the normal times could make the flow of love and respect un-balanced. Advice to visiting tourists: Pay the villagers for food and place to sleep, use of their skills and knowledges in guiding you in the forest, solving problems during the jungle trek, handicrafts you buy, etc. but do not give any free money or sweets (to children) which may make them beggers. You may do a small donation of necessary things such as medicines and learning materials.

Village monastery
Buddhist monastery in Laiwo.

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