We had the amazing opportunity to go and spend a night with our new friends in Huay Pu Keng village. It takes around a three hour drive to get from Pai to Huay Pu Keng. It is a beautiful drive and if you are not prone to car sickness, like me, you can really soak in the beautiful views. Huay Pu Keng can only be reached by boat. We were dropped off at a river and then fetched by one of the villagers in his long tail river boat.
On our way to Huay Pu Ken Village
The village is surrounded by jungle. There is no signal, no electricity and it’s so quiet. We stayed in Rimu’s house, she had done the workshop with us so we immediately felt quite comfortable.
Once settled we wanted to explore the village and a young man offered to give us a little tour. He told us, while we walked, that he too was supposed to attend the workshop in Pai but couldn’t as he was not born in a hospital so he has no identification at all therefore the police would not allow him to travel.
A walk around the village
He took us to a beautiful spot at the top of the village which had an open planned bamboo hall. He explained that this was where some of the people in the village celebrated Kayan new year. Each year they cut a tree down in the forest and offer it to the spirits. The trees are carved and put in a circle. They look quite magical.
The sacred poles
I asked him if everyone believed in the Kayan traditional belief and he said no. He explained that there were many different religions in the village. Some believed in these traditional beliefs, some were Buddhist and others Catholic (they even have a little church in the village).
The village church
He showed us the little village School and we then headed back to our homestay. I asked our host if he knew of anyone in the village who made clothing or jewellery. He then took us to meet his mom and her friends.
The village school
We found Pu Deng’s mom weaving in front of their house. She wore full traditional Kayan dress. The most striking thing about the Kayan women are their elongated necks. There are many stories as to why these women wear the coils around their neck but I wanted to ask them myself.
Pu Deng’s mom Moo Bu
Pu Deng introduced me to Ma Se and Moo Kluk. Moo Kluk is an older woman and I asked Pu Deng if he could translate some questions as she doesn’t speak any English. I asked her if she knew why Kayan women wore the coils around their necks. She explained that it was just part of the Kayan tradition. Moo Kluk came to Thailand around a year ago to be with her son. She said she didn’t have much family left in Burma.
We also spoke to Ma Se. She told us she had 4 children. One girl and three boys. She told us how she had come to Thailand when she was 17 years old. She told us that there was no rice or food in Burma which is why she came to Thailand.
I wanted to take a look at some of the beautiful things these women made. All of them have little shops in the front of their houses. It was interesting to look through the shops as most of the things they are selling look fake and Chinese. Later I heard that they buy Chinese scarves and necklaces as they used to get many Chinese tourists in the village who only wanted to buy the fake Chinese made stuff. I asked if I could see some of the things they had made themselves. Ma Se showed me some of the traditional Kayan shirts she had made using a hand loom. All Kayan women wear these shirts, Ma Se explained.
A hand weaving loom
Once we had done a little shopping we decided to walk around the village a little more. We went and sat under a tree near the School. We were approached by three teenage girls who wanted to have a chat. We spoke about boyfriends and a little about School. They also climbed a tree to get some seeds for us to eat. They were really sour and the girls filled our hands with MSG so we could dip the seeds into it. I really loved chatting to these girls and felt a real connection to all of them.
These three girls were a lot of fun 🙂
Getting us snacks from the tree, little beans that were very sour
They advised us to eat them with a lot of MSG 🙂
Later we went to the football field near the School as Pat was invited to join a soccer game. While pat played soccer with all the young men from the village I made some new little friends.
We left the field when it was dark to head back home. When we walked onto the main street of the village it felt as if the village was alive. Everyone was walking around and there were some young kids practicing a traditional Kayan dance. We sat and watched them for a while and met some more people in the village. We met one woman who was fluent in English and began chatting to us.
She told us that she was only visiting the village for a couple of days as her grandmother was sick. She explained that she had grown up in a refugee camp nearby. She was born there and had never left the village for 18 years. Herself and her family were then given a chance to make a new life in New Zealand. Her mom, her son and her two sisters flew to New Zealand when she was 19. She didn’t speak a word of English before she moved there and now she is completely fluent. She explained what a crazy transition it was to leave the camp for the first time only to fly into a different country. She was incredibly funny and it was so amazing to learn more about her story.
We had an amazing dinner and were in bed quite early after such a long day.
The moon rising over the village
Our time spent in the village was really special. We learned so much about the little village and the people who live there. We also found a beautiful Kayan shirt and Sarong-its on our shop so take a look. Thank you to all our wonderful friends in Huay Pu Keng for being so welcoming and hospitable.
Rainbow over the little village of Huy Pu Keng
We hope you enjoyed the post.