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Photographer's Note

In the far N. E. of Thailand, near Chiang Saen, a short drive will bring you to an area where Hill Tribe people live. Tribes such as Karen, Lisu, Hmong and Akha have been crossing in to Thailand for generations although more recently, Karen have been driven into border areas by The Burmese Army. Throughout the north of Thailand, the influence of the West is prevalent. It is strange to see a little wooden hut....with a satelite dish attached. I reserve my my opinion as to the work of Christian missionaries and here is why. This particular HIll Tribe village was an Akha village and as I entered It was pointed out that I must pass through the village's Spirit Gate. This was a doorway like arrangement made from sticks and nearby, a large wooden carving of a copulating couple proved an interesting sight. My guide was very definite, that I was not to touch anything from 'outside' the gate and bring it in. The gate serves the purpose of symbolic separation of the outside world and the inside world. I was the only visitor to this village and as I got closer, I could hear some drumming. I didn't think much about it but as I passed through the gate I could feel a cold prickle running up my back..it felt decidedly strange. OK..so what about the other Christian tribal villages? There are many where missionaries have gone in ...and I have seen them...but I could never find their 'Spirit Gate' at these villages. Its a shame that the missionaries can't go into these places..do their good work ..but leave the tribal belief systems intact.
This old man is an Akha tribal elder, he had probably seen many like me before..he just sat there with the wisdom of ages in his face and smiled enigmaticly at me.
Cropped, converted with B & W Pro

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