June in Thailand: The Karen

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The first village we visited was but a short walk from where we got off the boat. We’d hardly broken a sweat before Jare called a halt and a village appeared in a clearing in the shrubbery. It consisted of several nondescript huts on stilts. We first paid our respects to the village headman lounging around on a hammock with a half-tame monkey scampering about on his lap. He looked so content and happy smoking his pipe. We ate our fried rice, packed earlier at Mae Sam Laeb, at his place. When we were done, we flicked the crumbs through the slats of the floor down onto the dirt below, letting the chickens have fun pecking at our leftovers.

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The villagers were happy to let us take photos. Jare told us that it was perfectly OK. Seemed like groups like ours only passed through once every few months, so I was comforted somewhat that they weren’t overexposed to tourism and its ill-effects. The kids were as always intrigued by the camera and very tickled to see their images on the little LED screen.

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The Karens’ colourful costumes photographed beautifully. It was amazing that their clothes were still so wonderfully colourful even though slightly worn from daily wear.

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This lady had so much character I had difficulty choosing which of her photos to feature. I like how this photo shows how her stern demeanour lightened after seeing me lurking about sheepishly, not knowing how to ask if I could take a photo. She signalled to me that it was okay and continued smoking her newly lit pipe.

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Then there was this young mother and her toddler son who shyly looked at her son and ignored the camera.

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It was such a pity we stayed for such a short couple of hours, giving us little time to interact with the villagers. We had to press on.

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