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Ban Apha

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As soon as we hopped off the sungtao at the Akha village, we were greeted with delicious freshly made food and fruit. After lunch, we were given a tour by Pi’ Cartoon, a guide from The Mirror Foundation and Yui an intern from The Mirror Foundation. She has a very bubbly and funny personality so we felt comfortable with her at first sight.

As we walked around the village, we saw Appi Attah (an elder of the village) and her daughter sewing beautiful patterns on tribal fabrics. Appi Attah’s daughter helped teach Davineekaht how to sew some of the beautiful patterns. As we were watching the beautiful sewing, Loida was playing with Appi Attah’s grandson who had beautiful plump cheeks and a tender smile. We then moved further down the village, Paw Klu, Elena and I helped a very kind lady cut banana trees stems which are used to feed pigs. We also saw how straw roofs were made and met a bunch of little cute kids on the way.

Every morning at 7 am we woke up to the sounds of roosters, cats, dogs and children at the Akha village. After inhaling the delicious breakfast cooked by our host families, we got ready to climb up the mountain. We helped build a pipe line that starts at a spring and wraps down the side of the mountain to the wells close to a wat. After a few hours of digging, carrying rocks and sand, we head down for lunch, which was delicious as always. Then we climb back up the mountain and continue digging. Repeat for a couple of days except the last day where we had green mangoes with chili in celebration of finishing the project. In the afternoon we walked to a waterfall where we saw young people jump off from a high cliff into the water.

That same day was our last night at Akha village. After cleaning ourselves up we prepared to have dinner with the villagers. Before getting our food we walked through a line of elder community members, they each tied strings around our wrists and gave us their blessings. After dinner, the Mirror Foundation interns, Baifern and Shan played a sweet video created from clips of our work from the week and our interviews where we each talked about how we felt about the program and the village. Then our host families took us a side to dress up in Akha traditional clothing. We danced with the community members around a big fire and sang, it was very beautiful.

The next morning we were all sad to go we loaded our bags into a van and started our trek through the forest. During our time in the village there was a ugly cute black dog named Saigo, her english name was sausage. Everyday we went to work she would follow us up and down the mountain, like usual she followed us as we walked. We all kept telling her bpai (go back) but she kept following us. The trek was hard at first, but it got easier after a while and seeing Sausage's energy helped us all keep walking. For lunch we ate fried chicken with sticky rice at a waterfall. This time we saw young monks jump off the cliff. After more walking we arrived at a Lahu village to stay the night. That night we celebrated Jessica’s 20th birthday, our leaders surprised her with a strawberry cake that Pi’Cartoon helped deliver. We then had karaoke, Davineekaht was definitely the main vocal of the night.

The next morning, we got up and continued walking for a couple hours and yes Sausage was still by our side protecting us. For lunch our two male guides cooked a meal for us. They made rice, pumpkin soup, and grilled chicken all cooked inside of bamboo. They also made us some delicious lemon grass tea. After we kept walking and then finally we arrived at the meeting location which was at a Elephant riding place. The elephants looked so sad, it was very different from the Karen elephant sanctuary we went to last time. As we were sitting down, out of no where a ice cream man appeared and we all felt so happy and relieved to eat something cold under the beating sun.

Right after our ride arrived and we all hopped in the back of a truck and sausage came with us too. We took a 30 minute car ride to our guest house in Chiang Rai, when we arrived we were all sad to say goodbye to Sausage she kept trying to jump out of the car. We were happy to hear that one of our male guides was from the village so he took her back with him, we will always remember sausage. We then went straight to our comfy beds and relaxed, we all needed it.

The next day we visited the White temple where we took some cute pics and then visited the Black House where we ate some charcoal and vanilla ice cream and learned some history about the place. That was how we spent our last day before heading to a farm in Nan. 

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