Ja Bo

Location:

Ja Bo is a Lahu village sitting on a mountain ridge, accessed by a small mountain road, approximately 10 km’s off the main highway to Mae Hong Son.  Behind the village, a limestone cliff soars into the sky, containing many caves, which are recognized as important prehistoric, archeological sites.

These caves contain mysterious, prehistoric coffins, which are considered by local people to be the home of “Pee Men,” or powerful village spirits.

The highlights of Ja Bo Community

“Stay in a traditional Lahu village, explore the nature trail and sacred cave with local guides; get to know the friendly local people, taste traditional Lahu food!”

Why is Ja Bo special?

The Lahu people of Ja Bo are colourful, flamboyant and welcoming. Village life is invested with a special energy which visitors will not fail to notice. Guests who are lucky enough to visit during the Lahu new year, or other important festival times will have the chance to learn traditional dances from community members, in the sacred dancing circle.

Ja Bo community is known for traditional medicine.  The village doctor does not require any payment for his services.  He provides free treatment to every patient whether they are rich or poor.  After the illness has been cured, the patient may give something in return in the form of cash, barter, or labor.

Ja Bo is also a good place to try traditional Lahu food, made from wild vegetables such as mushrooms, bamboo shoots, young leaves which guests can help their hosts to collect from the forest, or cultivated vegetables such as cucumber, pumpkin, and string bean from the villagers’ gardens.

During festivals, guests may be able to try ‘Khao Puk’, a soft, sticky, sweet rice cake. Several hours and the energy of several people will be used to knead and pound this snack, before the villagers decide that it is ready to eat!

Don’t miss this…

Activities for guests:

  • Cultural insight: In 2 or 3 hours, guests can explore the village’s important cultural sites. Local guides can escort you to the sacred Ran Ja Kueh” dancing ground. You will have the chance to meet local craftspeople, usually making clothes and bamboo instruments. Guests may meet the village spirit doctor.
  • Weaving workshop: Local women are proud of their sewing and weaving skills. They are happy to show guests how they sew and decorate traditional dress, and explain the meaning of the many different colours of their clothes. Guests can sit for half an hour, or half a day enjoying the lively company of the weavers, sharing stories about life at home and in the village.
  • Visit Pee Man Caveis home of the ghosts of the village.  Trek through the village and up the mountain to the mouth of the cave, which is reached by a wooden stairway, built securely on the cliff. Inside Pee Man cave, there are numerous pre-historic coffins; some lying on the ground, and some on top of tall poles.  There are also beautiful glittering stalactites and stalagmites. Taw Kaw Cave and the Sacred Pond Cave can also be visited on a longer trek.

dscf0143

Green Corner: People and Planet

Baan Ja Bo Community-Based Tourism Group was formed in 2001 to create better understanding of Lahu people’s livelihoods, traditions, and culture. In particular, Ja Bo community wanted to show that the Lahu people are able to live harmoniously with the forest.  At that time, many communities were being relocated from national park areas. The villagers wanted to prove that they did not use destructive farming practices as was understood by lowland people.

Villagers showed guests their community forests, and explained that the community already zoned and protected forest lands.  With forest protected from encroachment, it would not be necessary for the community to be relocated.

Through preparing to welcome guests, the villagers have also experienced improvements to their health and hygiene. They have also become more confident to represent their culture.