Akha Swing Ceremony At Pahee 2018

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by ianyonok, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

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    August is the Swing Ceremony month for the Akha people. It was the Harvest full Moon weekend.

    We went up the Burma ridge road to Bahn PaHee, just down from Doi Chang Moob on the Nang Non mountain ridge, near Doi Tung.
    We have been buying coffee for our hotel, from Khun Aran, the village Headman at PaHee, for many years. Always a good excuse for a blast up into the mountains on my Morgo Triumph cafe racer...
    I had spoken to Aran about the ceremony before, but he said they didn't do it in traditional dress usually, but 2018 would be different and he wanted it to be a real traditional event. All the village people were dressed accordingly.
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    When we arrived around 10:00, the ladies of the village were lined up on the main road to welcome visitors with music.



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    The senior ladies in their finest
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    The mostly younger ladies formed the welcoming party.
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    Mrs ianyonok came too. It was a misty day up in the mountains, so the spectacular views were sadly not visible
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    Got to get plenty of selfies in, when dressed in your finery.
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    The Akha Swings were in full action all day. What a spot, right on the edge of the ridge....
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    A little lower down in the village is the Sacred Gate
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    Then it was time to gather for the speeches. The elders in the comfy chairs.
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    Khun Aran, the Headman of Bahn PaHee, in the middle. On the right is the Nai Amphur Mae sai.
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    The first speech did start with words along the lines of "Give Thanks to Somdet Ya, the King's Grandmother, for giving us a new life...." No doubt that is true. The Akha people here do very well now, since they had the opportunity to move away from growing opium, to growing coffee and being in full control of it's farming, production and sales. They are a tightly knit community, with coffee growing in and all around the village with almost everyone taking part in some stage of the production. When you look down at the houses, they all seem to have the baths outside, for the wet processing of the coffee cherries. They sell super tasting coffee too, in the village coffee shop.
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    The only Thai we heard spoken, was in the speeches.
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    Although several hundred people there, I saw only 3 other farangs (a local, a Dutch tourist and the GT Rider). This festival will be repeated each year from now on and I expect it will draw more people every year.
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    We didn't stay for the dancing and drinking later on......
    A wonderfully colourful day, even in the showery weather. It is fantastic too, that they want to keep their culture alive.
    Good time had by all.....
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  2. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Thanks Ian It was a fantastic day. I've got some photos coming soon when I get a bit of time

    A couple of samplers

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  3. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

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    Great work - i think the opportunity to visit such cultures & the rich experience gained from it is a highlight for those lucky enough to live in northern Thailand.

    I recognise several faces of the locals - they have weathered time better than me which says much for their lifestyle & sense of tradition, of community....

    Interesting how big it has become since I was first there some 10 years ago. I wrote a similar post to yours, Ian, on GTR & the next year a Japanese film crew arrived a paid them to run it a few days earlier than planned so that they could capture the event. On our first visit we were the only 'outsiders' there; man has it grown.

    I miss it!
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Catching up still

    The location is absolutely magnificent in Pa Hee
    GTR-Pa-Hee.

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    I arrived late and just caught the opening ceremony with Ian
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    it was impressive & inspiring to see so many proud people out there.

    The village elders were resplendent in the top Akha gear.
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    Being a bit crowded the best views for some of the guys were from the roof
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    The Akha villagers poured in dressed in their finest
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    Ian & I were at our best with biker T-shirts
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    & knee protectors.

    The swing was soon up & operating at a dizzy pace
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    A couple of "selfies" were required with the Akha belles.
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    more to come..
     
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  5. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

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    So colourful, great photos.
    Have a feeling the Akha suit tie may not be completely traditional, but who cares.....
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    All the action centres around the Akha Swing
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    Some action of the swingers on the giant Akha Swing
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    Not everyone seems to enjoy the ride & I can well understand
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  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Some spectators & female "musicians"
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  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    A local festival for local Akha people - promoting their own culture & customs - proud to be Akha.

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    The more you ride & explore the mountains the more you see & learn, plus the more you realise how little you know. You can never get bored riding & touring this fabulous region full of wonderful ethnic cultures, all with something to offer if you take the time to linger longer with the locals.
    The 2018 Akha Swing Festival in Pa Hee was an absolute hoot, way up in the mountains on the Burma border.

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    Pa Hee is just off R1149, the Doi Tung - Mae Sai Burma border back road.
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    There's excellent coffee & amazing views in & around Pa Hee. Check it out sometime.

    R1149 features in the "Top Ten" roads of North Thailand on GTR
    North Thailand Top Ten Roads

    Mark your 2019 calendar for Akha Swing Festivals mid-late August to early September.
    Some earlier GTR Akha Swing Festival reports

    The Akha Sam Yaek Festival

    Akha Swing Festival, Doi Chang 2012
     
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  9. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

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    Super photos, David, Great stuff.
     
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  10. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Moderator

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    Great Stuff Ian and David, Thailand is as the saying says, amazing.

    What a great event to witness first hand.
    I must have ridden past the turn off to Phahee ten times or more, and never bothered to
    check it out. It’s now on my list of must see destinations.
    By my calculations, Phahee is only about 4 kilometres as the crow fly’s from the famous Tham Pla
    cave.

    Thanks for the report on the Ceremony, with brilliant photos showing it with all its colour.

    Cheers Moto-Rex
     
  11. ZCM

    ZCM Ol'Timer

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    Stunning photos! What an amazing festival.
     
  12. NELSKA

    NELSKA Active Member

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    Yesss, stunning pics et very interesting report. Thank you to Ian and David for sharing !
     
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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