hilltribes_sWhen Rob Irving set off earlier this year to explore and iron out any difficulties for WPA’s Photo Workshop Tour of Thailand we did not think about publishing a series of articles about his “dry run” but we are glad we did as this gives real insight into how we work. Rob has now reached the Hill Tribe people of northwest Thailand and was pleasantly surprised by his welcome…

Travel about 250 kilometres west of Chiang Mai, in northwest Thailand, and you come to the town of Mae Sariang. Rent a motorcycle, have someone who knows the hills and their hidden tribes draw you a map on the back of an old menu and head off into a world so very far from the one we know…

My contact is Pat, a local in Mae Sariang who has a tour operation which takes small groups of the adventurous into the hills about 60 kilometres northwest of the town. He and his small team are on board with World Photo Adventure to help our parties find their way around the jungle tracks and villages of the region.

So off I set for the village of Loo Op, populated by the La Waw people, completely unsure as to what or who I’ll find, simply thinking that whatever unfolds will unfold, spurred on by the complete adventure of it all… I arrived at dusk, feeling tired and hungry whilst thinking, hmmm, what on earth do I do now… Unbeknown to me Pat had somehow got word to the village to expect me and within minutes of climbing off of my bike, a smiling lady approached me, seemingly from nowhere, and in the most pidgin of English confirmed her suspicions of who she thought I was… “Robert, welcome, come with me…” or at least words to that effect.

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For the next few days I stayed with her and her family, and then, on to friends of their family in other villages. Everywhere I went I was completely welcomed, invited into homes, to eat or to drink, or simply to be… learning about their lives as they learnt about mine. Life was simple with an essence of purity. Everyone one I met without exception was warm, charming and “childish” in a manner that only a centered, unstressed and content adult can be.

Oh – And anyone who fancies coming along too would be more than welcome!

Check out the dates and the itinerary for the Thailand Photo Workshop Tour or download a copy of the itinerary…

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