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Chiang Mai Visitor Attraction - Baan Tong Luang Agri-Cultural Village / Eco-Agricultural Village
Baan Tong Luang Agri-Cultural Village / Eco-Agricultural Village, Mae Rim Road, Mae Rim Valley, Chiang Mai Province.
Entrance fee applies for this Chiang Mai visitor attraction. The village was established in late 2005
We visited the Baan Tong Luang Agri-Cultural Village close to The Mae Sa Elephant Training Camp about thirty kilometers north of Chiang Mai city in December 2007 and found a working representation of a group of traditional hill tribes, or mountain people's villages.
Baan Tong Luang Eco-Agricultural Village is set in a rural area at the base of a hill and houses families from four different ethnic tribes who coexist to act as an economic filter to their true home villages around the northern borders of Thailand with Myanmar (Burma) and Lao (Laos).
The families at Baan Tong Luang Agri-Cultural Village / Eco-Agricultural Village including representatives of the Palong or Padong Karen Longneck (The long-necked women of Myanmar [Burma]) The tribe who had migrated from Myanmar over thirty years ago to Thailand, called Da La Ang The word Palong is from the Thai Yai language. Their unique culture shows through their colourful tribal costumes, the White Karen, Lahu Shibalah or Lahu Shi Balah AKA the Yellow Lahu - The smallest group of Lahu found in Thailand.
Women of the Yellow Lahu tribe generally have large loops in the ear lobes, made by inserting a series of silver plugs that are graduated from small to quite large, stretching the ear lobe tissue over the years. The Lahu Shibalah orignated in Tibet, now an annex of China. The fourth tribe are the Red Karen or Pakayor.
We explored the village with its many family accommodations and gardens filled with herbs and vegetables. We passed through the neighbouring rice-paddy fields with live buffalo grazing or dozing close by.
We were permitted to enter one of the houses, built mainly of split bamboo, especially the walls and floor. The roof it thatched with large leaves which have to be renewed every year or so. Inside we saw the traditional kitchen, in the centre of the main house living room.
We saw the preparation of the rice crop by winnowing the grain. The primitive equipment is either water or (wo)man-powered.
There is an opportunity to help the community by purchasing genuine original hand made tribal craft articles, like traditional woven goods - bags, bottle holders and scarves etc, musical instruments, smokers requisites, jewellery etc. some of which you can see being made in situ.
The tribes have their own traditional tribal dress codes which are very colourful. We were given to understand that white dresses mean the wearer is unmarried within one of the Karen tribes.
Here a man is tuning a set of musical wind pipes before finishing ready for sale. His colourful heavy woven tribal outfit with hat keeps him warm, day and night.
The visitor attraction toilet facilities, close to the lower entrance gate, were amongst the best we have seen in Thailand. Very clean and tidy. Western pedestal toilets with toilet paper, hand washing and drying facilities.
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