The different ethnic groups / minorities in northern Lao.
Actually I don’t want talk about minorities. It sounds weird like those people are ‘minor’ to other people. So I prefer to talk about ethnic groups. I’ve met people from 2 different groups in the area of Luang Namtha. Famous of it nation park and the people within. During the 2 day trekking I’ve met the Kmhmu (or in proper in English Khmu) and Tai Dam people. Such remote place in the heart of the jungle. There is almost no electricity, people sitting around the bonfires every night telling stories of their ancestors. Such amazing time I’ve spend there. Before you start your trekking and look for different options at several agencies. Try to gather more people. More people means cheaper prize. You can look for the blackboards standing outside when some people signed up for a trekking so you can go together with those people.
2 day trekking – Day 1
My trekking started in Luang Namtha at the Discovering Laos agency. A very good agency we had a great group with French, Russians, Korean, Swiss and myself (Dutch). There was great interaction between everyone good cohesive group and of course some great guides. The tuk tuk took us first to the market place to buy drinks and food. After the market we went to the starting point of our trekking. The first part was quite easy we had a self prepared lunch by the guides (old school way, the jungle provide everything for you). The 2nd part was a bit more difficult walked 2,5 hours and it was getting warm. At the end of the afternoon we arrived at Nalan Neoun village. A village of Kmhmu ethnic group. We spend the late afternoon and evening there. Great to wander around the village see the indigenous how they live. Very back to basic but it feels so calm so peaceful. Civilization hasn’t reach this place. Our night in a homestay at a local family was a great experience. Basic kitchen, basic beds. Sleep was ok but it can be very cold up north.
2 day trekking – Day 2
The 2nd day was waking up early because of the noise of the animals such as chickens, roosters, pigs etc. The people stand up early. It is a farmers life. Get up when the sun rises. After a simple breakfast at the same bonfire in the evening before we took a 2nd leg of the trekking through 2 other villages. The first one was also Kmhmu ethnic group and the 2nd was Tai dam. Two different tribes you can recognize the traditional clothing. While Kmhmu have more vibrant and bright colors and where more ‘normal’ clothing. The Tai Dam However wear black clothes with red and silver details. After we visit those villages the though part has yet to come to climb a mountain for 2 hours and go down for 2 hours more. At the very end of the trekking near the main road we saw an other Tai Dam village. After 2 days of trekking it was time to see the guides goodbye and after a hot shower to have a good dinner all together with the other travelers before we went into other directions.