A Photo Journey: Learning About Sustainability in the Forests of Northern Thailand

A text version of the first three photos can be accessed here.



A very healthy dinner at Mae Klang Luang, the village in Doi Inthanon National park. I will miss these healthy meals, from the egg omelet, to the curries, to the stir fried cucumber and pork with raw eggplants.


One day we picked mulberries and then boiled them into a very yummy jam. The only ingredients were equal parts mulberries and sugar and a smaller portion of water.


We also caught minnows and water bugs in the stream to eat for dinner. This is an activity that families in the village enjoy doing and it was very difficult. I only caught one bug.


My instructor and I tried working together to lift a rock and catch some bugs, but alas we found none that time.


Riverside ferns are also great as a stir fry, although in my opinion they have a slight slimy texture.


This is one of the most fascinating bugs I have ever seen. It looks like a UFO with little antennae.


Behind the pastor’s house was a burning field. The Forestry Department let the village burn for 5 days, and we were lucky to be there during one of the days to witness the burning. It was so close and the sun turned bright red in the afternoons because of the smoke in the air.


We found the cutest kittens in our instructor’s family’s house!


My independent research project for this class was on language, so when we visited a neighboring Hmong village, I asked the village head if there was a word for “map” in Hmong. He said there was not, because the Hmong people used to migrate every 10 years across the landscape and did not have the need to make maps.


On our hike through the many mountainous forests, we would pass various fields at different stages of rotation. Some had bushes, being a year or two old. Others were mature and 10 years old. This one had just been burned and is going to be planted with crops. The cows seemed to like it there!


Wild raspberries! In Karen culture, when you offer someone fruits from your hand, instead of letting the other person take just one, you pour the whole handful into the other person’s hand. So cool!


A magnificent view of the mountains from the village. Both Karen villages we stayed at had Churches and we got to visit on Sunday. It was full of much singing and everyone was very welcoming. While many people are Christian, they may still practice animism. For example, a Shaman cursed some threatened fish in a section of one river in order to prevent people from eating them


One day we learned about Karen bag weaving. The thread used to come from locally grown plant fibers and they still use natural dye from forest tree bark. The thread I tried spinning was dyed pink from tree bark.


At Doi Inthanon’s cloud forest, moss covers the trees like sweaters. This high altitude mountain, the highest in Thailand, was so cold and wet compared to the rest of Northern Thailand, which is currently in dry season. It is a big tourist destination and has unique species of birds.


In a small museum, we learned about the different ways people are allowed to use forests. Some parts can have houses, some can have crops, some are for foraging, some for spiritual use, and some prohibit any human changes.























We visited the pagodas at the national park and finally saw the clouds part beyond the Angel’s Trumpet flowers. What a grand view!


Another bug!


Shoots from a common local plant that you can collect by digging them out of the ground. To eat, you steam them, peel off the tough outer layers, and pop in your mouth with some chili paste.

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