Photo: Muang Long from the stupa.

Introduction

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Nestled in a valley and at the confluence of the Nam Long and Nam Ma rivers, with a striking backdrop of rolling hills and jagged cliffs, is the town and district capital Muang Long and for such a small town, it bustles, especially at its market.



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People from surrounding villages descend into town in the early morning to peddle their goods or to buy supplies. Here you will see Akha women in headdresses laden with silver baubles and coins shopping along side Lanten women head-to-toe in black indigo with bright pink trim, their hair slicked down and parted in the middle. For those searching for authentic hill-tribe trekking, this is as real as it gets. Here, the ethnic “minority” are the majority and the district is frontier land – mountainous and remote, sharing 50 kilometres of border with Burma. You can visit villages that may not have seen all that many foreigners pass through in years.

People are going bananas in Muang Long. Photo taken in or around Muang Long, Laos by Cindy Fan.

People are going bananas in Muang Long. Photo: Cindy Fan

The Akha are the dominant group in the area and they are also perhaps the most interesting and recognisable because of the silver headdresses. Their spoken language is classified as Tibeto-Burman and they are thought to have arrived in Laos in the mid-19th century. They are also found in parts of Thailand, China and Vietnam and are one of the most diverse ethnic groups in Southeast Asia, with so much variation that some dialects would not understand others. As hill people, they have incredible knowledge of and connection with the forest and the land. They practise animism and ancestor worship and have a strict code of rituals, customs and laws that dictate their life. A guided trek is the best way to learn more about this fascinating and ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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