Features on Asian Art, Culture, History & Travel
The Padaung Refugees Of Mae Hong Son
Strangers in a Land of Mists and Opium
Visitors to Thailand’s remote but picturesque northwestern province of Mae Hong Son have long been able to enjoy such diverse and exciting attractions as elephant riding, white water rafting, jungle trekking, rock climbing and visiting the many hill tribes of the region. Then, some years ago, a new attraction appeared - the so-called "Long-Neck Karen hill tribe", much touted as an attraction by Thai tourist companies and the Mae Hong Son provincial administration.
Lijiang’s Art And Music Scene
The Unique Cultural Traditions of the Naxi People
Far up in the northwest corner of China’s Yunnan Province, just off the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, lies the Lijiang Plain. It is home to the Naxi people, one of the best known of Yunnan’s two dozen national minorities, a folk whose art and music are drawing appreciative students and patrons from distant lands. And their attention, in turn, has encouraged the blossoming of a neo-traditional rennaissance in the work of local painters and musicians.
Buddhist Temples Of Vietnam
Where Mahayana, Daoist and Confucian Traditions Meet and Mingle
In Vietnam, where Chinese cultural influences are strong, the face of Buddhism is fascinatingly different. In the dragon-ornamented temples of Hue, or behind almost any shop front in Cholon, an ancient Buddhist tradition, the Mahayana, flourishes. The institutions which preserve and pass on this faith are the country’s Chua Viet, or Vietnamese Buddhist temples. Here the Mahayana traditions of Central Asia merge and mingle with Chinese Confucianism, Taoism, and the archaic spirit-worship indigenous to the civilisations of mainland Southeast Asia.
Discover Thailand’s Hill Tribes
Trekking In Northern Thailand
A visit to a hill tribe village is one of the main reasons why people travel to Thailand’s far north. There can be few other places on earth where so many varied, exotic and fascinating cultures coexist side-by-side in apparent harmony. To be sure, similar hill tribe groups live nearby, in neighbouring Burma, South China, and Laos; yet the former remains troubled by ethnic insurgency, its upland areas closed to foreign travellers for decades, whilst facilities for visitors to minority areas of South China are still rudimentary, and in Laos virtually non-existent.
Sapa, Vietnam: A Resort Reborn
Tay-Bác is the name given to Vietnam’s mountainous northwestern provinces. The area extends from Hanoi north along the Red River to the border of Yunnan Province, China and west of the river to the boundary of Phong Saly Province, Laos. The country’s highest peaks lie in Tay-Bác. The valleys and slopes are home to an ethnic mosaic of some of the most colourful and traditional peoples in Southeast Asia. Yet in all of Tay-Bác only one major urban centre is up in the hills.
The Tarutao Archipelago
Thailand’s Sea-Girt Getaway
Imagine an isolated, sea-girt archipelago, its inaccessible karst cliffs rising above virgin rainforest, surrounded by deserted white sand beaches, turquoise waters and coral reefs teeming with every kind of exotic fish. Overhead a lone sea eagle is silhouetted against the setting sun. It’s everybody’s dream of a perfect getaway – but fortunately, at Thailand’s Tarutao Marine National Park, it’s more than just a dream. It’s reality.
Ban Huai Kee Lek
An Akha Village on Top of the World
The Akha are a relatively poor tribal people living on the very top of the most inaccessible peaks. Of Tibetan origin, they are the most recent hill people to have migrated to Thailand, and they are perhaps the least conversant with Thai as a language. They are immediately distinguishable by the elaborate and beautiful headgear of the women – perhaps the most remarkable single feature of Thai hill tribes.
Phuket’s Peranakan Community
Thailand’s Historic "Straits Chinese"
“Peranakan” is a Malay term that, literally translated, means “of mixed race”. Over the centuries it has become used to identify the descendants of the first Chinese settlers in southern Thailand and peninsular Malaysia and their locally-born wives. The great majority of these Chinese migrants came from southern Fujian Province and spoke Hokkien dialect. Hard-working and ambitious, they were commercially successful, gradually developing and expanding both local and regional trade.