My name is Erica Kwon and I am currently studying Social Work and Social entrepreneurship in New York University. Since my family enjoys traveling, I have been traveling all around the world with them. One of my passions has been traveling and learning about new culture and how people live in other parts of the world. Also, I was interested in studying poverty and sustainable community development in the developing countries. I had experience in working in refugee community in Kyrgyzstan to develop their sustainable agriculture and business and to raise funds for improving education and setting health centers geared towards improving the standards of living. I have passion of being a community development worker working with nongovernmental organizations working on the poverty alleviation, capability building and sustainability. I was very excited to experience in Lisu Lodge on their sustainable community based tourisms. My time in Lisu lodge, Lanjia Lodge, Khum Lanna was very joyful and adventurous experiencing nature’s beauty and learning history, food, culture and life of the hill tribes including Lisu, Lahu and Hmong. First, I want to share my exciting journeys in these beautiful places.

Lisu lodge

I first arrived in Lisu Lodge in the northern Thailand in Chiang Mai. I have traveled shining spots in Thailand including Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket several times but it was first time to explore in local culture and lifestyle up in the hill tribe village with most alluring and pristine scenery. I was very impressed by the beautiful landscape of Lisu lodge surrounded by greenery in garden with tress, rice field and mountain on horizon. Also, the houses are built with bamboo trees so I could enjoy my time relaxing and communing with nature by catching the summer breeze. While staying in the Lisu lodge, I biked around the village to see their handicraft works, which is one of revenues for the community. The Lisu tribes have made their traditional patterns for the bags, coin wallets, hats and belts and sold them to the markets. And, this is the one of my Boutique Projects in the Lisu lodge by helping the villages to come up with the sellable products so that they could increase their revenue by selling their handicrafts.

Lahu outpost

Lisu lodge offers the greatest experience trekking towards the Lahu Outpost, which overlooks amazing views of the northern Thailand, by passing over beautiful forests and waterfall. After a 3-hour hike to the peak of the mountain, I felt the most excitement and great accomplishment. The view from this village is spectacular when looking southward down the valley or westward to mountain peaks stretching towards Burma. It was my favorite moment of my journeys staying the beauty of the nature form the peak of the mountain in the Lahu outpost. The Lahu tribes have lived in the mountain regions of the country and preserved their strong traditions and religious belief. Since they lived in the peak of the mountain, the tribe has lived without electricity in their village. On my way back down to the Lisu lodge, I went down the river by water rafting passing the jungle trail. And it was SUPTER fun!

Khum Lanna

I enjoyed another adventure at Khum Lanna to experience Thailand traditional food and lifestyle. Khum Lanna has the most beautiful housing with a garden and emerald-green rice field view. I participated the cooking class to prepare my own food and to learn amazing Thai recipes. I learned to cook Sum-Tom (papaya salad), Spring roll, Panaeng curry with pork and Fried fish with chili and basil. I loved this cooking class opportunity. I definitely bring all these recipes to my family when I am back home. In the morning, I went on the biking tour around the village, temple and the local markets. Especially, I felt so refreshed and energized wheeling my bike along the greenery rice field catching the cool breeze. Khum Lanna provided the unique and memorable time during the stay.

Lanjia Lodge

Among the four places that I stayed, Lanjia Lodge nestled on the hill in Chiang Rai overlooking Mekong River and Laos has the best spectacular scenery and panoramic view of the Golden triangle area below. In the village nearby Lanjia lodge, Hmong and Lahu villagers are living in harmony transcending different lifestyles and religious practices. Like other lodges, Lanjia lodge has different packages that I can grasp insight into the culture of Hmong and Lahu tribal lifestyles. I had cross stitching and Batik class that I can practice the beautiful Hmong pattern from the village. Mostly, I enjoyed the beauty of the landscape and ubiquitous bamboo from the lodge! I truly wish to return to the Lodges with my family.

Boutique Project

My colleagues, Woojung and Soojung Kim, and I have been working on the Boutique project for the Lisu lodge, helping the Lisu villagers to develop marketable products. The production and sales of handicraft products are an important source of income for the Lisu. The villagers apply their traditional patterns of their costume with many items such as bags, wallet, hat and key chains.

We worked together with the Lisu people to raise their knowledge and skills in design and marketing. I found that their products look almost the same. The patterns used on the products are not as appealing as the same products made by the Lahu and the Hmong.

However, the Lisu patterns are delicate works that take a lot of time and patience to make. Their weaving skills are also amazing! I am impressed that they still make the products by hands with great effort even though these products can be made by machines, nowadays. Our main objective of the Boutique project is to help the villagers develop better products and raising the quality of the skills and techniques of production. We have been researching on the markets to see what items are most attractive to the tourists. We came up with different products inspired by the Lisu art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erica Kwon is a guest blogger and studying Social Work and Social entrepreneurship in New York University. She is one of the interns working on a sustainable tourism project at Lisu Lodge.