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Trekking to the Akha hilltribe

Trekking out of Muang Sing in north west Laos

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We arrived in dusty Muang Sing and found ourselves a very basic but very cheap guest house for one night as we planned to go trekking the next day. We went down to the guide services office to discover that the trekking was a lot more expensive than expected especially as there were only two of us. Eventually we found one more person, Catherine from the UK, and settled on a two day one night trek. We almost had another two people, Julian and Julian from France, but they wanted to do a longer trek.

We set off early the next day with our Lao guide to a nearby village to have a look around before heading off again to a second village where we picked up an Akha guy who the guide services employ to help out on the treks. Here at the second village we had a look at their school and met the two Julians as they would be following the same route as us for the first day and staying at the same village for their first night.

The going was quite tough. It was very hot and the guides set a very fast pace added to the fact that it was the first time we had done serious walking since before christmas in New Zealand. As we travelled through the forest we could hear trees being felled. It turned out to be the Akha people from the second village. Our guides weren't happy as the area is supposed to be protected. At one point the track we were following was blocked by felled bamboo so we had to take a diversion down the hill and back up to get around the deforested area.

As well as bamboo blocking the way there was also a herd of water buffalo wallowing at the bottom of a valley on deep mud. We all felt a little cautious but our guides were completely un fazed and just walked in waving their arms and the buffalo all got out the way. Shortly after this we stopped for lunch which consisted of sticky rice and stir fried meat and vegatables all wrapped in banana leaves.

The next few hours we spent tramping through the countryside and eventually made it to the village where we would spend the night. Things were a little strange as there was no introduction to any of the villagers and after dinner we were left to amuse ourselves with no indication of what was happening that evening. Just as we were considering going to bed we were all ushered inside our hut and given "traditional Akha massages". It seemed to me more like we were being practised on for kneeding dough. The rest of the evening was spent asking a few questions of our guides about the Akha culture and drinking Lao Lao (rice whiskey).

The next morning the two Julians had decided to cut thier trek short and return to Muang Sing with us. We set quite a fast pace, which was easier in the morning as it was a bit cooler, as we wanted to get back in time to catch a bus to Luang Nam Tha. After about four hours of walking we arrived back at the second village we had visted and got picked up by a tuktuk to take us back to Muang Sing. We got back with plently of time for the bus and that night stayed in a guest house with a very nice bed with a proper matress.

All in all it was an interesting experience though a bit dissapointing with the lack of communication between us and our guide and the apparent poor relationship between the guides and the Akha people.

Posted by AandSTrip 22:25 Archived in Laos Tagged ecotourism

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