I like these little festivals and Davidfl told me about this one, so off we went to Doi Chang on a lovely sunny day. Straight up the R118 form Chiang Mai and a left into R3037 and a right into R (I dont know what) through Saeng Charoen to DoiChang. I little bit of road works up through the hills but great views riding along the ridge. Finally made it to Doi Chang Resort and what a lovely spot it is. All very green up there at this time of the year too Good grub too... Doi Chang is a typical Thai mountain village, a bit run down here and there with a few pot holes in the roads but as usual, super friendly folk with one stop satellite TV delivery fresh pork too the road into town and of course lots of great fresh coffee We were fortunate to meet an Akha guy who did a phd anthropology in California. He was a fountain of information as to what was going on during the whole proceedings and he has this year, for the first time ever, plotted the linage of the Akha families in the village. He explained that he has made charts for 147 families but the rest of the Akha in the village have become Christian. Doi Chang is a mixture of Akha, Lisu and ChinHaw. The missionaries who convert people require that they change their names to Christian names. As the linage is produced from the Akha names, it is apparently not possable to produce the linage with the newly adopted Christian names. As Christians, the missionaries require that they cannot participate in any of the traditional Akha activities, including the swing festival. The process of producing these charts is lengthy as there is no written language for the Akha and so it is all from memory, passed down through the generations. Our guide on matters Akha explaining to Ian and one of the 147 charts he produced The festival I understood was to celebrate the right of passage for the young girls into adulthood and to wish for a good season of crops. Apparently in Akha legend, there was a plague of bugs that was destroying the crops. The legend says that one guy found a poison for the bugs but they wouldn't eat it. His solution to that dilemma was to use his blood to attract the bugs to eat the poison. This worked well but unfortunately it did take up all his blood to get the job done and he died as a consequence. And so the ceremony is to give thanks and to remember this poor chap for saving the crops and the continuation of the Akha race. The ceremony starts with the clearing of the past years swing area, removing whats left of the old swing and erecting the new one. The entrance to the swing area (which no one seemed bothered to use. Perhaps its for spirits only?) Preparing the vines for the swing rope and the poles and up she goes the final touches In Akha mythology, the sky came from three stones, the earth from three blades of grass and so this is the first to be placed on the swing and the headman is the first to swing. In this village the headman is a young guy as his father passed away early in life and so the responsibility is passed to his son. then its all on for young and old guests are also welcome to join in including farang rock stars which drew much amusement from the gals in the crowd as only rock stars can that being the case, I thought it would be worth risking life and limb myself but not surprisingly, there was no similar reaction. Still, we met some lovely people and discovered that each Akha house has their own little swing During the dinner the night before we also witnessed a small dance group of Ahka and Lisu Akha, Lisu and a couple of Thai ring-ins Another fun weekend with good friends and the local village folk and a wet ride home!