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Trek and camp in Umphang, Umphang Kee village to Chong Yen: 17 - 21 Feb 2007

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Kotha waterfall on Klotho stream
At about 9:30 in the morning we arrived at Kotha waterfall where Huay Klotho stream drops elevation over a series of low cliffs. We took a rest at the quiet place without other tourists. It is a good place to camp too. On long weekend holidays some tourists come here for photo shoots and relaxation and picnic or camping doing fishing and cooking. It is not a popular place compared to Thilorsu waterfall, and rubber boat white water rafting on Mae Klong river from Umphang.

Fishing at Kotha waterfall
Our Karen friends fishing at Kotha waterfall. Hilltribe preople (Karen or Kayin, Pa-O, Mon, etc.) use various methods to catch fish. I have seen equipment like bow and arrow (but smaller), string and rod with bait, net. Some even show ability to catch fish by bare hands. These are the people of mountains, rivers and forests.

Arriving Kotha village and paddy fields
As usual we saw the farms, temporary huts, and smokes from the cooking. Then came the shape of a rural minority ethnic peoples' village of bamboo and wooden houses built on stilts. At about 10:15 hrs we arrived at Ban Kotha Karen village which sits on the bank of Klotho stream. The village has both permanant farms on which paddy, corns, etc. are grown every year for long time usually on relatively flat land; and slash and burn firms in the hills. The slash and burn way of farming has, in the past, been blamed for soil degradation and forest fires; but the method has lately been found by many researchers as probably the most suitable way of growing food plants in the mountain areas.

A house in Kotha village
This particular house is a good example to describe how these people live. Major posts or columns are made of wood or tree trunks. The space below the house is a storage where people can keep fire wood, farm and other tools, chickens and pigs, and construction materials and so on. It is also a place to sit and chat during hot weather days, and even to do hand weaving of cloths and clothes. This house has piped water supply at the front yard where they grow vegetable. Solar panal has been installed to energise a couple of light tubes and a radio.

Flooring is partly bamboo and partly rough sawn timber smoothed by hand. Roofing is by pressed bamboo sheets. Kitchen is in the front-left corner where they clean things over the bamboo deck. Bedrooms are inside with scant partition made of bamboo. This family owns elephants which were at that time in the forest to find food. Elephants were used for transport of goods. Now they could earn some income by offering elephant ride for tourists.

At first glance a city dweller might feel odd at these people way of living. Many years ago city people who came to visit such places would never think about being of any use living like this. However now we start to realise that these people are indeed living the way that might be most suitable for long term use of our very planet earth.

Collected water bottles are cut to keep tooth brushes and pastes in the primary school
At the primary school children are asked to keep tooth brushes and pastes in cut used water bottles and hang over the wall. A program to raise the health awareness includes a rule that every one must brush their teeth regularly.

The primary school library
The primary school library houses some educational materials that include text books, writing equipment, posters, some tables and chairs.

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