Explore the land of Pang Mapha, the land in mist. Learn the way of life ofhill tribes and promote an ecotourism. Along the way, a small car travel through the winding mountain ranges and thousand corners of the road toward Baan Ja Bo, Amphoe Pang Mapha, Mae Hongsorn Province. We are going to visit the place that lets us to experience more of a nature and the culture of Lahu hill tribe and the sea of mist that we are familiar from the book, Amazing in Thailand. The first impression arises at the moment our car climbs up the mountain road, the sea of mist welcomes and greets along the way. The name, the land of mist, does not fail us at all even though the highlight is not yet to come.
Today, the first place we are going to visit is Mr. Uthai Bandanthong’s Homestay. He also wears another hat as the head of the village. However, before checking in to the place, we plan to hang around appreciating the nature and the village for a while.
After having a conversation with the locals, we get some interesting information. Most villagers here are Lahu people. We may not be familiar with the name of this tribe. However, after we do some research in the website of Tourism Authority of Thailand, we know that Lahu people are Muser people. The ancestors of Lahu people in Baan Ja Bo are Lahu people from 3 different ethnic minorities which are Black Muser, Red Muser, and Yellow Muser.
What the tourists like us can see is that no matter how much the technology like the Internet, fashion, and innovations can intrude into the villager,
“they can still preserve their language and traditional Lahu costume.”
The Beginning of OTOP Nawatwithi-Style Products, Ecotourism, and Homestay
The handmade crafts and products of Lahu people in Baan Ja Bo are developed by the community. Through the Project of Community Tourism, “OTOP Nawatwithi,” the Community Development Department under the Ministry of Interior has provided support and assistance in many aspects, especially in promoting basic knowledge of marketing and expanding marketing channels, not only for OTOP products but also the tourism.
People here work in a weaving factor, Lahu dancing space, a smithy, a rotational farm, a rice mill factor etc. Baan Ja Bo’s nearby tourist attractions are Tor Gor cave, the Sacred Water Cave, and such historic place as “Phi Man Cave” that the villagers recommend us.
The popular viewpoint to appreciate the sea of mist and the sunrise
Baan Ja Bo is not situated as high above the sea level as other places. But at its height of 915 meters above the sea level, it is not that difficult to impress visitors with its stunning sea of mist and the beautiful gleaming sunrise. The cold weather and cooling breeze touch the face gently. The simplicity of people’s lifestyle has already stolen our heart.
Those who are interested in traveling here and shopping Innovative OTOP products can drive their own car from Mae Hong Son downtown using the road no. 1095, Amphoe Pai until arrive at the checkpoint. Then, turn left and continue for 4 kilometers until arrive at Baan Ja Bo. It takes 1 hour and a half.
After we open up our heart to embrace this place and try to learn and understand many stories here, we realize that even a place can have hearts: the heart of people, the heart of community and the heart of place. If we can establish understanding and bridge the gap between visitors and locals, the outside world cannot intrude and destroy originality of the place, culture, and the community.
‘It is our responsibility to take care of what we have. The project of community tourism, “OTOP Nawatwithi” is communicating to us via places, ways of life, and nature.’