Getting off the beaten track has always been my husband, David’s, idea of a good holiday. It’s something I enjoy too, especially when it means that you meet the local people rather than other tourists.
On our recent 2 week holiday in Thailand we planned the holiday to give us variety – Bangkok and Phuket on either end of a five day tour, with a driver and guide, through the Mae Hon Song province of Thailand. It wasn’t the actual itinerary that appealed to us, although the countryside is beautiful, but rather that we would be meeting people from several different remote hill tribes close to the Myanmar border.
To spend time with people who still live fairly traditional lives is a precious privilege in our world, as technology reaches into the most remote villages rapidly changing the expectations and lives of so many. But that is what we were able to do, and it was an experience that I’ll always treasure.
This photo shows David, our guide Ay and driver Goh, with the most remarkable family I have ever met. Their home is small and humble, their facilities basic, and their furniture non-existent, with the exception of two stumps of wood to sit on (probably brought in for us to use). But within that home it was inspirational to see the love, co-operation and determination to create a great life. The parents were both outgoing and obviously understand the importance of exposing their children to the outside world. They have raised their children to be friendly, confident and ready to take on the world! At some time they had an American student live with them for months and she ensured that the older girls developed excellent English. The younger two are being taught English by their older siblings. The eldest girl recently left home to study nursing at University so we didn’t have the pleasure of meeting her but we did hear how much the family was missing her. The second girl, Ann, also wants to studying nursing. Om, the third daughter, plans on becoming a teacher and hopes to return to the local area to teach the local children. The little boy, Dom, was quite shy and initially agreed with the family that he’d be a rice farmer like his dad, but then quietly shared with me that he’d like to be a doctor. Number 5, engagingly known as Email, is still at the dancing and swirling stage so our communication consisted of smiles and giggles, but those smiles and giggles were pretty special!
I was curious about how they studied at home. After all the house consists of two small living areas, two small sleeping areas and a tiny verandah. I was told that sitting around the fire, in room that is used for cooking and eating, the children all do their homework and help one another as they can. There was a TV but it was broken and covered with a cloth. Computers are accessed at the local high school and no-one seemed too concerned that they didn’t have access at home.
Yes, it is a simpler life, but a life that is rich in the things that really matter.
By Jenni Proctor