The Remote Hilltribes of Thailand

In 2009 and 2012 I lived with little-known ethnic groups in Thailand: the mountain hilltribes. Well-known tribes, such as the ring-necked women of Mae Hong Son, are visited frequently on tourist trekking trips in the northwest. Most people, however, are members of hilltribes who stick to farming and raising livestock in well-hidden corners of the country. These mountain hilltribes are a dying breed. Teens are moving to Bangkok, technology is becoming increasingly important, and Internet is accessible from the most random of areas. Still, few foreigners—if any—have visited these remote areas, which are reached only by motorcycle on unmarked paths and roads. Each time I visit or return to these small villages, I fall more and more in love with the jaw-dropping beauty and wild nature of these lands. I was honored to be the first foreigner to ever step foot in these remote villages, and I sincerely hope expanding tourism does not wreck these pristine places. Despite living on rice and little else while living there, I look forward to spending time in these exotic locations once again.