Retire at Chiang Mai on 550 USD per month only




Any tourist visiting Chiang Mai will see the Hilltribe people dressed in their traditional clothing which is normally dark red and wearing their head dress for the ladies and small round caps adorned with silver designs for the children. Seeing them and buying a few articles made by the Hilltribe people is far different from living with them and understanding them.

Part 1 of 2 of an article written about visiting a hilltribe village in the Chiang Dao area of Thailand, approximately 70 miles north-east of Chiang Mai.

In the photo you can see that the young ladies are dressed alike. If you look at the background you can see a small village set on the side on the hill.

The climate is cooler here and the type of clothing that the ladies are wearing is very suitable considering that temperatures are cooler or much cooler than Chiang Mai.

One of the tour packages that is offered in Chiang Mai to visiting tourists is a day trip that includes seeing the Hilltribe people. An even more interesting experience is that of actually living with them for several days as I have done.

I also have seen the hilltribe people daily as I am in Chiang Mai. They are primarily downtown or in tourist areas selling their homemade crafts from belts, caps, purses, hats. Items made with silver decorations.

Nightly they setup their stands with articles for sale about 5-6 p.m. and about 11 p.m. they start disassembling the stands and taking back the merchandise that has not been sold. The articles sold are unique and are inexpensive memoirs of a trip to distant Thailand.

There are hilltribe people from different areas of Northern Thailand and they normally have a tradional dress for their respective area or village. One hilltribe people may or may not know other hilltribe peoples even when shown photo's of the hilltribe people in their respective dress.

3 young ladies with 3 children from the same village. Recently I travelled to Chiang Dao which is located about 100 kilometres north east of Chiang Mai.

The trip was made by an automatic motorbike with a 100 c.c. engine and a top speed with me in it of about 110 km. an hour and with a Thai person in it of about 115-120 km. an hour.


We left Chiang Mai around 11 a.m. for the journey to visit my girlfriend's parents that live in the Chiang Dao area. Actually they live about 40 minutes from the small town of Chiang Dao up a winding road to near the top of the nearby mountain.





Driving a standard motorbike takes a little bit of getting used to as you have to constantly change gears up and down one at a time to get the desired speed. Driving an automatic motorbike is much less complicated and something anyone can do from young children to people in their 70's.

In fact it is something we recommend to most of our clients as it allows them to go where they want when they want and thus see and do more while they are in Chaing Mai and for retiree's gives them more of a feeling of independence.

After about 2 hours from Chiang Mai a trip that included stopping off for gas and stopping for lunch and stopping at a patrol checkpoint where we met my girlfriend's sister and daughter who came along with us the drive was uneventful. A half hour before we reached Chiang Dao we saw several streams and some with rapids with signs announcing an elephant camp and another sign prominently advertising a water adventure.

When we entered the small town of Chiang Dao we stopped off at the fresh market where we purchased fruits, meat, candies for the kids and snacks for the adults as well as a large bottle of Sang Som rum and a large bottle of coke.

On one motorbike was my girlfriend driving with a large bag with fruits she purchased in Chiang Mai weighing about 15 pounds and sitting behind here was her sister. On my motorbike there was me and my girlfriend's daughter who was about 7 years old.

The sister and daughter were dressed in dark red outfits with designs and they looked identical. The outfit looked heavy and went from shoulder to several inches above the ground.

I had a black bag in between my legs sitting on the motorbike, with another bag sitting in that bag and a third bag on top of the second and the 7 year old daughter behind me on the bike.

Normally the men eat together and the women eat together at their own table Here we have a group of men eating together. The food is prepared and placed on a wicker table and the people are given chop sticks and spoons and their own bowl.

They select from the dishes on the table which may include soup, fish, pork, or chicken. No desserts or appetizers.


After the meal it appears customary that the men indulge in a bit of Thai whisky which is very strong and often consumed without being mixed with water or juice or pop.

In this photo I see some large bottles of Chang beer which is one of two most popular priced Thai beers and once bottle of cream soda pop.

I did see the women drinking some Thai whisky the one day and they were mixing it with orange pop or cream soda. Well.. to each their own. One woman drank a bit too much and had to be carried back home by her friends.

The trip from Chiang Dao to their village was 26 km. and it took us 30 minutes of going up and down winding hills from speeds of 35 km. an hour up to 85 km. an hour.

Slow on the way up and fast on the way down. Trees on both sides with the ocassional view of the countryside down below. The drive was enjoyable and exciting by motorbike. Their was very little in the way of traffic with just the ocassional motor vehicle or motorbike and the road was in very good condition.

So long as the brakes worked fine a very safe and enjoyable ride there.

When we arrived I met the family of my girlfriend. Three sisters, two brothers as well as some neighbors that lived nearby. Their property was about 1 minute off the main road.

From the main road we took a cement lined street for about 30 seconds and then a dirt road for about 30 seconds to their property.

My estimate of the size of the property would be 70 yards by by 90 yards and it hand two Thai houses raised above ground level.

Below one house was a chicken coup and next to that was a hog pen. Roosters, chickens and baby chic's roamed around looking for food.

Ten yards past that house was the toilet which was separated into two areas, one with a squat down toilet where after you finish what you went their for you scoop up water from the adjoining tank filled with water and pour several small container fulls of water down the toilet. In the next adjoining area was another large tank filled with water where to shower you throw some water on to yourself with a small plastic bowl and then apply some soap and then throw more water on to yourself. No hot and cold just cool or cold water.

The mother is on the right seated together with her 2 sisters and one of their daughters. In this photo you can see the planks of wood at their backs. This is the main house and the walls are constructed of thes planks of wood and also the floors are of the same material.

As I walked on the floors the planks gave way about one inch to two inches and I was concerned that they may give way but they didn't. The roof is made of sheet metal and rainproof.

The water comes from the city through pipes laid just below ground level. At times when the city water is not available they have added these two large tanks similar in size to about 4 bathrubs filled with water. So if the city water is not coming thru for some reason they still have the water they need.

Next to their house they had an inground well where water would be taken from by turning a tap should the city water not be coming thru.

So 2 houses raised above the ground, a toilet divided in 2 sections which are showering and doing your thing, and pens for the chickens, hogs and a cement foundation laid for another house. The toilet is about 40 yards from the main house.

Just so you know my girlfriend's mother was not feeling well as this was one of the reasons for our visit. When we arrived we had just about a full load aboard the motorbikes from 4 people on two bikes and luggage, and groceries.

When we arrived and following the introductions where no one spoke English but me I could see that there would be more people there than I expected and even though we brought as much as could I knew we needed more especially after seeing their small fridge emptied out and cleaned.

The nearest market was back 30 minutes down the road we arrived on. The same market where we bought most of the groceries. So back on to the motorbike and 30 minute ride to the market with my gf on back and shopping for more fruits, meat, vegetables, snacks and then 30 minute drive back up to the village.

When we returned we had some guests. The area where my girlfriend's parents reside in near the top of the mountain near Chiang Dao. The small community is made of Thai's who speak Chinese as the first language and most do not understand Thai. The children go to school and learn a little bit of English and they can speak Thai and Chinese.

Back to the guests. When we returned from our shopping we found another 6 people from that area who were friends of the family. So where I thought we had purchased a fair bit of food I realized it would not last long if meals were for 10-20 people at each sitting.


related pages..

Living with a Hilltribe for 2 days - Part 2 of 2

A 2 part article written about a foreigner living in a Thai household.

Foreigner Living in Thai Household - Part 1 of 2


Foreigner Living in Thai Household - Part 2 of 2






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