Our Thailand, as I wrote in my previous blogs, wasn't the Thailand you read about in the papers. It was much more; much better! After we travelled north by train and tricycle and were greeted by friendly chauffeurs and scary temple dragons, we were engulfed by a Thailand drenched with religion and the color orange.
Our trip to the mountain villages led us through open hills that had once been covered with thick jungle, tea plantations, and little huts to rest. The Lahu village seemed to be inhabited only by animals who were roaming around as if they ran the place. But in-between, and increasingly when with the progression of the day, we met first some elderly, then kids, and at last the hard working mums and dads. The end of their new year was celebrated not only by animistic rituals and noisy firecrackers, but even more, as we saw on the first day of their new year (and the last day of our walk), by heavy drinking of moonshine and beer and passionate smoking of who-knows-what, both by men and women. But wherever we went, the Thai humble gestures of welcoming and thank-you’s reflect the greatness of this people.