I am really enjoying my visit to the Kyaingtung region. I have a great guide, Sai Zawm Wan, and the villages are interesting and welcoming. I have some thoughts on how the hilltribes could benefit more from tourism than they currently do, but I’ll save those thoughts for another post.
Sai Zawm Wan and I visited the Lahu Shi tribe today. At the first village, we visited the chief, who was not working in the fields as he was feeling unwell. We took gifts of coffee and shampoo. The Lahu Shi grow and drink tea, so coffee is a nice change for them. I am guessing the shampoo will be used mainly by the ladies, judging by their stunning long hair. The ladies are incredibly beautiful, although the younger ones are very shy so I did not take photos of them. The men were really very gracious and welcoming. I asked the chief what he thought of tourists coming to his village. His reply was that he is happy to receive tourists as visitors, as he cannot visit us in our countries. I really love that answer.
One of the men showed us his foot, which he had just injured. Although the big toe did not seem broken, it was bleeding, swollen, and already bruised. He asked if we had any medication, which we did not, and I realised how difficult life must be for these people if they have medical problems. I asked my guide to tell the man that he should wash the wound in hot water regularly and keep it clean. The instruction was passed on, but when we saw the man outside shortly afterwards it was clear he had decided not to take the advice. My guide was returning to the village in a few days, so I gave him money for bandages and antiseptic spray. I also asked him to ask about antibiotics, and to consider taking some to the village with instructions on how and when to use them. [update: Sai Zawm Wan just sent me a photograph of the man receiving the medical supplies and a message of thanks. Thanks to Sai Zawm Wan for making it all happen].
Some photos below. The last photo is the village chief.