We hired ourselves a motorbike and headed towards Mae Taeng in search of what we believed would be an “original” Hilltribe Village – people in their home town going about their daily lives. When we arrived up the winding roads, we were stopped at a desk and asked to pay 500 baht each for entrance. After a long drive in the heat we deliberated for awhile before agreeing to pay and enter.
I was so sad when we entered as the environment is similar to those we saw in Northern Vietnam, where a “village” has been created and people from different tribes throughout Thailand have been placed here in their traditional costumes in what is similar to a ‘human zoo’ for me. I didn’t see any sparkle in the eyes of the people staying there, they just sat at their stalls trying to sell their wares, while tourists (including me in the end), took photos of them and moved on. I wondered how these people ended up here and if they are free to go back to their native villages of their own free will. The ladies and little girls we spoke to had an emptiness in their eyes and looked so sad. If anyone can shed some light for me on the lives of these people then I am more than happy to hear about it, because I don’t understand why people have to live like this… just for the pleasure of tourists?