Trekking through the hill tribes of Thailands verdant north, Philip Sweeney and I embark on a multifaceted cultural adventure. A Gourmet Traveller feature for Food and Travel magazine.
An early evening impromptu village gathering where the women sing in an oral story telling tradition.
An early evening impromptu village gathering where the women sing in an oral story telling tradition, children also invited.
Spirit Gate Entrance to the Akha, Animist Village.
Guest quarters... our homestay at Ban Apha Pattana village is one of around 50 Akha villages in the region that are home jointly to around 60,000 tribal people.
Traditional dress is still worn by the villagers on special occasions (on this occasion an engagement party... and the arrival of journalists from the UK).
In the recent past every family would of owned one or two living buffalo, now the memory of those times are commemorated by buffalo souls on the entrance to the home.
The basic costume of the Akha woman consists of a headdress, a jacket, a short skirt, a sash with decorated ends and ornate leggings. The clothes are spun by hand, weaved together, and dyed indigo.
The back and the sleeves of the jacket are embellished with embroidery, satin stitches of bright colours, seeds, silver buttons, coins, beads, shells or tassels depending on the sub-group of Akha.
The headdress is the most important and elaborate part of the Akha costume. It varies from village to village and its ornamentation depends on marital and economic status, age and how recently the woman has had a baby.
Pounding chilli paste. The kitchen is in a separate part of the home from the living and sleeping areas.
Fresh Bamboo Worms are a local delicacy, they can be bought in the market in tinned or dried form when out of season but nothing beets the real thing fresh from the bamboo.
Pounding rice to make spicy pounded rice sweets.
Spicy pounded rice sweets.
Chermu is the village leader and our homestay host, here he demonstrates the art of carp fishing...
In the smoke of the open fire, Chermu prepares the cooking and drinking vessels from bamboo.
Adding fresh herbs to the cooking pot.
...and steaming the rice in bamboo on an open fire...
Breaking open the steamed rice.
Rice steamed to perfection in a hollow bamboo...
BBQ Chicken cooked over an open fire, I can honestly say this is the best tasting free range chicken I have ever had!