This is the fifth part of my series in Mae Hong Son.  It started with “The Road To Pai” , continued with “Pai, About and Around Town” , moved on to “Lisou Village, Mae Hong Son”, with part four “Mae Hong Son Landscapes, And A Mid-Range Zoom”   published just last week.  This week we’ll be visiting the Chinese Village which is located adjacent to the Lisou Village. 

Once again, I wasn’t really interested in the tourist areas. I wanted to spend time in the actual Chinese Village Neighborhood and see what I could concerning how they live.  By now you’ve probably picked up that I was really taken with Mae Hong Son and you would be right.  In fact, I’ll be up there for an extended stay starting at about the time you’re reading this column. 

Follow along as I share some images and I’ll do my best to narrate each one. 

 

This is the first thing you’ll see as you drive in the Chinese Village.  Obviously for the benefit of tourists the sign and dragon statues with red are easily recognizable as Chinese.  This is a “park like” area, and was relatively empty all three days I visited.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/80th  38mm ISO 100 

This is the first thing you’ll see as you drive in the Chinese Village.  Obviously for the benefit of tourists the sign and dragon statues with red are easily recognizable as Chinese.  This is a “park like” area, and was relatively empty all three days I visited. 

 

I saw this kid from my car and guessed he’d soon be hiding behind the umbrella which was already there on the ground.   I was on the wrong side of the car to get the picture so I hurriedly pushed my camera over to Eyal and said “get the picture get the picture” to which he replied “where’s the go button?”  He ended up getting a few pictures though and this one was especially nice.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/125th  125mm ISO 400 

I saw this kid from my car and guessed he’d soon be hiding behind the umbrella which was already there on the ground.   I was on the wrong side of the car to get the picture so I hurriedly pushed my camera over to Eyal and said “get the picture get the picture” to which he replied “where’s the go button?”  He ended up getting a few pictures though and this one was especially nice. 

 

As you approach the fork in the road leading into the area you can either go right into the Lisou Village, or left into the Chinese Village.  Do you see the sign for the Chinese Village?  It’s severely faded and easy to miss.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/250th  51mm ISO 100 

As you approach the fork in the road leading into the area you can either go right into the Lisou Village, or left into the Chinese Village.  Do you see the sign for the Chinese Village?  It’s severely faded and easy to miss. 

 

Stepping back from the fork in the road you can see the paved road goes to the Chinese Village, while the dirt road goes to the more poor Lisou Village.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/250th  24mm ISO 100 

Stepping back from the fork in the road you can see the paved road goes to the Chinese Village, while the dirt road goes to the more poor Lisou Village. 

 

This village has something the Lisou Village didn’t.  Men.  Men of working age were everywhere in direct contrast to the Lisou Village where I saw only one male of working age.  This group of men were sitting around drinking tea and seemed very friendly.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/60th  70mm ISO 160 

This village has something the Lisou Village didn’t.  Men.  Men of working age were everywhere in direct contrast to the Lisou Village where I saw only one male of working age.  This group of men were sitting around drinking tea and seemed very friendly.

 


This is a small outdoor shop in the tourist area of the Chinese Village.  This lady just wouldn’t smile to save her life so I ended up doing my comedy routine and she finally cracked a smile.  Eyal commented “people seeing your pictures have no idea of the interaction..”

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/100th  100mm ISO 800 

This is a small outdoor shop in the tourist area of the Chinese Village.  This lady just wouldn’t smile to save her life so I ended up doing my comedy routine and she finally cracked a smile.  Eyal commented “people seeing your pictures have no idea of the interaction..”   

 

Stepping away from the shop you can see there’s not a lot to it

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/25th  24mm ISO 100

Stepping away from the shop you can see there’s not a lot to it. 

 

Here, you see a father of working age with his daughter who’s school age, quite different from the Lisou Village.  They were quietly working on their leaves and didn’t look up for longer than a quick second, totally ignoring us as their life went on.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/125th  120mm ISO 800 

Here, you see a father of working age with his daughter who’s school age, quite different from the Lisou Village.  They were quietly working on their leaves and didn’t look up for longer than a quick second, totally ignoring us as their life went on.

 

From a vantage point high atop the Chinese Village you can look down at the tourist areas of both the Chinese and Lisou villages.  What a beautiful valley!

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/200th  70mm ISO 100 

From a vantage point high atop the Chinese Village you can look down at the tourist areas of both the Chinese and Lisou villages.  What a beautiful valley! 

 

Using a longer focal length we now zoom in directly to the Chinese Village.  See the two gold colored dragon statues to the left?  These are the same ones from the picture above.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/200th  200mm ISO 200 

Using a longer focal length we now zoom in directly to the Chinese Village.  See the two gold colored dragon statues to the left?  These are the same ones from the picture above. 

 

As you drive through the villages they’re often outdoors on the porches taking care of children and performing domestic chores.  I had the feeling there was a great amount of family cohesiveness among these people.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/80th  70mm ISO 200 

As you drive through the villages they’re often outdoors on the porches taking care of children and performing domestic chores.  I had the feeling there was a great amount of family cohesiveness among these people. 

 

In the tourist area these traditional appearing huts are set up to serve food and drinks.  A rather boring shot, but the clouds and sky were nice anywhere you pointed the camera.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/80th  24mm ISO 100 

In the tourist area these traditional appearing huts are set up to serve food and drinks.  A rather boring shot, but the clouds and sky were nice anywhere you pointed the camera. 

 

This is a shop for the locals inside their neighborhood, quite different from the tourist area.  As in the Lisou Village you can see the walls and structures are largely build from locally available ‘found’ materials.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/40th  28mm ISO 100 

This is a shop for the locals inside their neighborhood, quite different from the tourist area.  As in the Lisou Village you can see the walls and structures are largely build from locally available ‘found’ materials. 

 

One thing you can count on, no matter where you go almost anywhere in the world, you’ll find these old Singer sewing machines helping menders create and repair clothing.  These are very simple and basic machines, far different than the computerized sewing machines you see today.  Heck, I have my grandmothers sewing machine here in Bangkok with me, in the same sort of table, and even though she bought it about 40 years ago it looks positively space age compared to this old style you see everywhere.
Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/125th  150mm ISO 200 

One thing you can count on, no matter where you go almost anywhere in the world, you’ll find these old Singer sewing machines helping menders create and repair clothing.  These are very simple and basic machines, far different than the computerized sewing machines you see today.  Heck, I have my grandmothers sewing machine here in Bangkok with me, in the same sort of table, and even though she bought it about 40 years ago it looks positively space age compared to this old style you see everywhere. 

 

How many places in the world have a used Ox Cart lot?  Seriously, these carts are specially made to be towed by beasts and they seem quite well built.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/200th  100mm ISO 100 

How many places in the world have a used Ox Cart lot?  Seriously, these carts are specially made to be towed by beasts and they seem quite well built. 

 

Obviously the stacked roof is traditional Chinese and the adjoining house makes up the entire used Ox Cart lot and management offices..

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/800th  70mm ISO 100 

Obviously the stacked roof is traditional Chinese and the adjoining house makes up the entire used Ox Cart lot and management offices.. Smile 

 

A typical home.  When we returned to Bangkok over five years ago we bought a washer and a drying rack.  We quickly learned that clothes set out to dry long enough in the Bangkok pollution resulted in a peculiar and unpleasant smell.  So we bought a dryer.  Here, with the clean fresh air I’ll bet their clothes smell like a slice of heaven.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/160th  90mm ISO 100

A typical home.  When we returned to Bangkok over five years ago we bought a washer and a drying rack.  We quickly learned that clothes set out to dry long enough in the Bangkok pollution resulted in a peculiar and unpleasant smell.  So we bought a dryer.  Here, with the clean fresh air I’ll bet their clothes smell like a slice of heaven. 

 

As you can picture, the villages are built into the side of hills and the further you go into the village the higher you climb.  The concrete roads were in direct contrast to the dirt and gravel roads in the Lisou Village next door.  Class structure, as destructive to society as it is, is alive and well even in the most rural areas of Thailand.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/320th  70mm ISO 100 

As you can picture, the villages are built into the side of hills and the further you go into the village the higher you climb.  The concrete roads were in direct contrast to the dirt and gravel roads in the Lisou Village next door.  Class structure, as destructive to society as it is, is alive and well even in the most rural areas of Thailand. 

 

I liked this home.  How often do you see a real garage in Thailand?  This is a two car garage and in the one with the door open the car inside is even covered!  The red brick construction must have been very expensive compared to the other homes in the village.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/125th  73mm ISO 100 

I liked this home.  How often do you see a real garage in Thailand?  This is a two car garage and in the one with the door open the car inside is even covered!  The red brick construction must have been very expensive compared to the other homes in the village. 

 

Two teenage girls at a local eatery which was nothing more than bare concrete walls and plastic chairs.  The motorbike is significant in this frame, it belonged to the girls.  Motorbikes were everywhere in the Chinese Village, an apparent sign of wealth, while in short supply next door in the Lisou Village.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/100th  100mm ISO 800 

Two teenage girls at a local eatery which was nothing more than bare concrete walls and plastic chairs.  The motorbike is significant in this frame, it belonged to the girls.  Motorbikes were everywhere in the Chinese Village, an apparent sign of wealth, while in short supply next door in the Lisou Village. 

 

It has been said that the best things in life are free, unless it’s a house with a great view.  Here, even the poorest live in houses providing spectacular views of the valley floor and neighboring mountains.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM  @F8  1/200th  70mm ISO 100 

It has been said that the best things in life are free, unless it’s a house with a great view.  Here, even the poorest live in houses providing spectacular views of the valley floor and neighboring mountains. 

These villages hold a lot of interest for me and I’ll be delving into them much deeper during this next trip.  To properly learn about these villages and meet the people, you normally need to spend at least several days in the area building the comfort and trust levels. 

It was obvious the Chinese Village was much richer than the Lisou Village, but was still poor compared to a standard Thai village.  Most homes here had electricity, were built much more solidly of more expensive materials, there were more motorbikes, more cars, nicer clothes, better food, and other signs of more wealth.  Why would two villages geographically identical, with access to the same natural resources, farm land, and so forth.. why would one be more rich than the other?  In interesting question, we could guess at the answers, but hopefully I’ll get to see for myself.