Lena’s 18th birthday today and we were all up to watch the sunrise and then a very nice birthday breakfast. We packed up our gear and filmed an interview with two village leaders, Sala Aja Ayesang, a farmer and Bhu Mee Ayesang, farmer and leader of the women’s group at Pakha Sukjai. They both talked about how they had come there from Myanmar 30 years ago and all there was, was the grass and the sound of wind in the grass. Since then they have planted forest all around the village. Climate change is not something easily translated from English to Thai and then to the Akha language. However, these people carry wisdom about their local environment and the interplay between forest cover and water. They requested that everyone in the world plant at least one tree for every day of their life. They also talked about the problem of on-going conflict in Myanmar, and the necessity to manage the entire watershed of the area, beyond political boundaries. Water is everything, but it is not enough just to plant trees in northern Thailand, because the water that lies under the ground crosses country boundaries. They also talked about the importance of holding to traditional knowledge.
This was the end of our short stay with the mountain people of the north of Thailand. We traveled back down to the lowland area to meet with Mr Plaek Techaboon. He was a teacher at an agricultural college, but resigned three years ago to work on his family land. Mr Techaboon is now dedicated to education about sustainable living, through creation of a living model for local sustainability. Our time here was too short, after arriving late and then needing to depart for Chiang Khong, by the Mekong river.
We ended the day celebrating Lena’s birthday with the Chiang Khong Conservation Group. It was a great evening, with our hosts bringing out their instruments and playing some Thai folk songs.