The Festival of 9 tribes at Bahn Saeo

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by ianyonok, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Ron came up from Chiang Mai on his Triumph Scrambler and Richard came up from Chiang Rai. I took the KLX and the 3 of us headed to the village of Huay Nam Yen, Dtumbon Bahn Saeo, just about 30 minutes out of Chiang Saen. What a wonderful evening at the Mahagum Gao Chonpao. There must have been about 1000 people there and just us 3 farangs. This is a yearly festival at a permanent showground and it was a full moon, as many of the hill tribe festivals happen on the full moon. Along one side of the showground are 9 different style traditional houses for the nine different ethnic groups that all live within the dtumbon of Bahn Saeo. The groups represented were; Isarn, Lisu, Chinese, Shan, Akha, Lahu, IuMien(Yao), Tai Lue and Thai. There were also some Hmong people who had been invited to mix in with the Thai group.
    Things kicked off at 17:00 with a parade from the main road up into the village and onto the showground.

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    After introductions, a firework on a wire shot around to the front of each house in turn, causing a curtain to drop revealing the name of the ethnic group represented, the firework then ended burning a string which dropped a hammer onto a gong. Various speeches by local dignitaries were then followed by a lot of presentations of bouquets of roses. As usual everyone was super friendly and many wanted to talk to us and have their photos taken with us. I also noticed a Yao lady who got a friend to take a photo of her in front of the Isarn people. Kamnan Pia from Chiang Saen was there among the VIPs and a very friendly malaria doctor from Mae Hong Son explained a lot of what was going on and later asked for my email address. Each of the groups houses were offering tasting of their traditional foods, tea and laokao. Some interesting tastes indeed and I was quite taken by some of the very spicy tastes at the Chinese house.

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    It was fun to mingle with the locals and of course the girls all dressed up were looking beautiful. There were several soldiers there wandering around with their M16s loosely slung. Over beside the stage were several food and drink stalls, then a table with several policeman sitting around drinking beer next to a large group of people at tables gambling. Only in Thailand.... After more speeches, each group did a dance routine on the stage and this was followed by a beauty contest. It was a privilege indeed to be present at this completely non-touristy event. It was smaller than the Mexican Sunflower Festival at Hua Mae Kham and it seemed there were very few outsiders there. It is great to see the people here having these wonderful events because they want to do it for themselves. What a wonderful and fascinating country this is.

    Ian
     
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  3. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Very Colourful, Top Stuff!
     
  4. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Photo 2 - Hey Ron, she must have been absolutely GORGEOUS!
     
  5. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    Ian has covered most of the ground so I will just add some more pictures.
    I met up with Ian and Richard at Viang Yanok where the master of old classic bikes gave my Scrambler from Triumphs 'Classic collection' the once over. 'Where's the kick start???? Electric What' etc....

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    Parts of the village look pretty much like they would have done for the past 100 yrs or so except a bit of concrete and tin here and there. I found it one of the more original villages that I have seen. No cell phone service and I didn't see a satellite dish

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    Just being pretty before the start

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    and off goes the parade into the village.

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    and under the auspicious arch erected for the festival

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    The folk as usual were really friendly and welcoming to the three farangs and a fabulous display of costumes

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    Official photographer

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    and semi-official photographer with armed guard

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    This festival seems to be a very local family event with something for the whole family. The kids had plenty to do to keep themselves amused

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    Full moon rising

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    and off goes the rocket to get things under way

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    I was approached by a policeman who was interested as to why we were there. He was fascinated as he said there are never farangs at this festival, which was interesting as all of the identification signs for each of the nine huts, one for each tribe, was also in English. He was very interesting and informative about the goings on and wanted to drink whiskey with me. He didn't get my point about drinking whiskey and then jumping on the bike and riding into night to get home.

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    The Issarn girls seemed to draw the biggest crowd for the dancing displays

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    and the top table munched away as they passed judgement on the performances

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    A big thanks to Ian for the heads up on this highly memorable event and for his and Richards company for the day. We had lot of fun and met really warm and lovely country folk.
    On a riding note, I want back to CNX through Doi Mae Salong with spectacular views early morning

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    and then headed down to Wawi on the 3037 to Mae Suai. That run is about 70 kms with 60 of them being tight turns on a potholed road with roadworks along the way

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    but the last five k's or so the views of the lake and countryside are fantastic and worth the pain of the first 60. Best to head up in the opposite direction to get the views and then turn back when it gets pot holed

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    BTW, I think that this thread should be moved from 'General Discussion' to 'Road trips and Reports' to keep the filing tidy?
     
  6. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Great report Ron; as usual you're able to capture with the camera & pin-point in the writing the true feeling of events. Icing on the cake to find a return route such as that that you took.
     
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    A ripper report & ripper festival. How come we've missed this one before. Ian a big thanks for the info & reporting. Ron sory I could not joinyou, but I'd just co9me back from Mae Sarieng.
    However, it is in the diary for next year.
    Thanks too for the all your recent tip offs, Ian. I hope you get lots more GT Rider popping in up your way.
     
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

  9. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Yes, sorry I didn't link one thread to the other. This festival was on 7th & 8th Jan at the moobahn of Huay Nam Yen in the dtumbon of Bahn Saeo. I didn't understand the situation when I first posted, just wanted to let people know it was on, when I found out about it. The Festival of 9 Tribes is the correct name, as you can see in the photos (if you read Thai).

    I have lived up here for 11 years and was not aware of this festival before. It is not for tourists, so why would they advertise it. As Ron said, there was policeman asking why we were there, as they had never seen farangs there before. Having said that, there were some small posters on the roads nearby. It was the first full moon of year, so maybe they choose that each year.

    Ian
     
  10. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    2013 9 HILL TRIBES FESTIVAL

    "Oops" I had the 2013 festival slated for full moon on 27th Jan, but that was not the case in the end; & fortunately for me I was in CEI Friday night 4th Jan supervising checking map stock when a late night SMS came in "that 9 hill tribes festival is on tomorrow."
    Short notice it was, but luckily CEI was only a short distance away from Chiang Saen.

    With map stock take out the way late Saturday morning there was time for a quick blast out to Ban Saew & Huai Nam Yen to see what was going on.

    Looking back at my pix now & reckon that 2012 must have been a much bigger event, especially as I could not tally up 9 tribes, but what would I know....

    The whole event seems pretty low key & not at all tourist orientated, and it is good seeing a local government effort made to support the local ethnic communities & help people proudly retain their identity & culture.

    A few happy snaps

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    YAO / MIEN

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    AKHA

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    LAHU

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    THAI ESARN

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    The Belle of the festival....

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    TAI LUE

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    MALE MUSO'S

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    OFFICIAL OPENING

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    After there were dancing shows

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    & music

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    plus presentations of traditional ethnic food dishes

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    about which time both my camera & phone batteries ran out. Ho Hum. I was not quite prepared.
    I packed up & left, heading back to Chiang Rai for the night.

    This 9 hill tribes festival is a delight of a "locals only show."
    Something very special for building up local community spirit & maintaining their ethnic identities.
    Well done to to the local authorities for organizing this.

    If I'm right & understand correctly this is only the 4th event.
    Its not at all organized for tourists/ outsiders, & as such is a nice place to hang out for the arvo - not expect much - & chat to the locals.

    Lets assume there will be another one in January 2014, about the same time; & not necessarily anything to do with full moon...& more likely aligned with the 1st (or 2nd weekend of January 2014???)
     
  11. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Have to Change Your Dates? It is January 2013! My how Time Flies!
     
  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks Bungy. I'm not really living in a time warp as they say....ha ha
     

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