TREKKING IN NORTHERN THAILAND
Hill Tribe and Jungle Trekking in Thailand has become one of the kingdom’s most popular activities, as Thailand’s mountainous north offers spectacular forests with exotic animals and unique tribal communities. Treks are offered by numerous groups in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Tak and other towns and cities in northern Thailand. Nearly every guest-house and hotel in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai will offer single and multi-day treks into the surrounding mountains.
Be aware that the quality of Chaing Mai Trekking tours and the villages they visit vary greatly. Some operators focus on smaller groups and are more concerned about the impact they are having on tribal communities and the environment. Be sure to ask about the level of difficulty of various treks and current weather conditions, as the mountains get considerably colder than most parts of Thailand and appropriate clothing is recommended. It worthwhile doing a little background checking—on the Internet and talking to other travelers— and arranging a trek with a trekking company with a good reputation.
Good treks are led by guides, fluent in English and the hill tribe languages, and who introduce trekkers to the tribes in an intimate yet unobtrusive fashion. Bad treks are led by guides, who don't speak English or the hill tribe languages, and who take visitors to villages in the suburbs of Chiang Mai, where the people quickly throw on their costumes before minibuses arrive at their appointed time, pose for snapshots, and then take the costumes off when the "trekkers" are hustled back into the departing minibuses.
Finding a descent trekking group can sometimes be a hassle but it is worthwhile investing the time to find a good one. Because recommendations in guidebooks quickly go out of date, you are best off asking travelers who have just returned from a trek for their thoughts and recommendations. There are many trekking groups. The Trekking Association of Northern Thailand is an umbrella group for 100 or so different trekking companies.
The treks range in length from one day to several weeks. The longer treks allow visitors to reach the most beautiful spots and unspoiled villages. Most travelers go on three-day-two-night treks or five-day-two-night treks. Trekking on your own is not recommend. You might get lost or stumble accidently on a backwoods heroin lab, whose owners are might take offense to a surprise visit.
The longer treks typically begin with long truck rides into the countryside, followed by guided hiking through moderately challenging terrain, where visitors pass through breathtaking forests of lush greenery filled with Thailand’s unique flora and fauna. An overnight stay in a hill tribe village is a fascinating experience and activities including elephant trekking, bamboo river rafting, and ox cart riding.
A typical $50-per-person, three-day two-night trek usually begins with breakfast at a hotel, followed by a four-hour minibus ride to the trail head and a three or hour walk to the village, where the trekkers spend the night. One the second day the trekkers walk to a village, ride on elephants for a couple of hours, and walk some more to another village to spend the second night. The third day often features a raft ride on a river to the pick up point.
The nights are usually spent in hill tribe village huts and the meals are prepared by the villagers. Porters that accompany the trekkers carry anything that is heavy and most trekkers only carry a small day pack. Before you set out, it is probably a good idea to make sure everyone in your group trek is fit. There is nothing worse than getting stuck with a bunch of complainers. Some of the treks are geared for drug travelers intent on smoking opium or marijuana. Keep that in mind when choosing a trekking company or group of trekkers. The one- and two-day treks tend to touristy. A $25 one-day trip usually involves a drive to a waterfall and a hill tribe village, and a two hour elephant trek up and down a hill.
The best time for trekking is dry season between November and May, when the rivers are calm enough for raft trips. During the wet season between June to October, the rivers are often too swift for raft trips and the remote jungle trails have lots of leeches. Remember that trekking areas are at higher elevation than most of Thailand. In December, January and February it can get quite cold, especially at night. By the same token, when the weather is hot in the plains, the temperatures are reasonably comfortable in the mountains.
Elephant Treks are highlight of most treks. Trekker usually ride on wooden platforms that are tied to the backs of the elephants, who are amazingly sure footed on the steep, narrow and sometimes slippery trails. The mahouts sit on the elephants neck and guide them by nudging a sensitive area behind their ears with a stick while the trekkers sway back and forth in a firm, steady motion.
Describing an elephant trek Joseph Miel wrote on the New York Times, "The boy driving our three-ton conveyance was barely learners-permit age, he knew what he was doing. On the scariest ascent, he demonstrated this by wisely jumping to safety...we flung to and for at every upward elephant strode, with fear providing the strength that kept our numb hands glued to the plank."
When riding on an elephant you can feel the raised spine and rumbling movement of the shoulder blades. Sometimes elephant people-carrying elephnats in Thailand stop on the trail to snack on leaves and plants and tourist he try to urge them on get a swat from yje trunk and spray of water.
Ethical Elephant Tourism
Donald Frazier wrote in the New York Times: “More than half of Thailand’s 7,000 elephants live in captivity. It’s been that way ever since 1989, when the country suspended almost all of the commercial logging that had employed them for generations. Jobless elephants, often with their keepers, ended up on the streets, wandering across farmlands or taking shelter in dangerous spots like highway underpasses. [Source: Donald Frazier, New York Times, June 19, 2019]
“Today almost all of the captive animals work to entertain tourists, often in remote clearings, for small-scale operations with no more than 15 elephants, similar to roadside farms in the U.S. that have emerged as tourist destinations. Sometimes visitors simply wander among and feed the elephants. But many of the so-called elephant camps let visitors bathe with them and ride them. And larger, more touristy sites present displays that range from a few circus-style tricks to Vegas-like pageants with costumes, scripted narratives and light shows.
“Travelers who want to see, encounter and maybe play with the region’s elephants face an agonizing question: How can they know if they are supporting the abuse of these emblematic animals? Several global organizations say that elephant tourism is inherently wrong, and should be phased out. “Animals do not exist for our entertainment,” said Delcianna Winders, a lawyer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which was instrumental in the long-lasting, high-profile campaign that removed elephant acts from U.S. circuses in 2016.
“Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach, senior wildlife and veterinary adviser for World Animal Protection, said that any elephant tourism, no matter how well-intentioned, drives a market where abuse is inevitable. The group insists all elephants need to be on protected reservations, with minimal contact, often limited to observation, sometimes from afar. But Dr. Janine Brown, chief elephant scientist for the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Species Survival and a member of the Asian Captive Elephant Working Group, a consortium of the region’s scientists, veterinarians, conservationists and other experts, said that creating reserves for all the country’s elephants is not possible. “It’s impossible to give a specific number of square acres per elephant,” she said. “But whatever it is, it’s more than today’s Thailand can offer.”
“Besides, it’s expensive to keep an elephant. Food can cost up to $38 per day, said John Roberts, head of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation and a key mover of Thailand’s elephant-friendly tourism initiatives. Other expenses push the total to around $56 in a country where a family of four can eat for as little as $18 per day. Nobody has proposed another way to fund the upkeep of so many unemployed elephants and support thousands of keepers.
Approved Elephant Treks
Donald Frazier wrote in the New York Times: “Finding the approved camps could take some effort and patience for U.S. travelers. The camps generally don’t market themselves overseas, so Americans have to find them through Thailand’s 10 Travelife-certified tour operators. Few of them are set up for direct sales, leery of doing anything that travel agents might perceive as stealing their business.
“But these companies can be valuable sources of information. Their names — the larger ones are Khiri Travel, Buffalo Tours and Exo Travel — appear on the Travelife site and that of program co-sponsor, the Pacific Asia Travel Association. Americans can contact them directly and simply ask how to find one of the Travelife elephant camps. Phone calls asking for the “ethical elephant visit” person work far better than emails — someone almost always speaks English. Most will connect a caller to the sustainability officer, often in the Bangkok office, who can make the right connections. A few operators such as Buffalo Tours will even directly book customers.
“Standards of care differ wildly. With little or no transparency or state regulation it’s impossible to learn about the camp’s practices or the elephants’ welfare. (Under Thai law, elephants are considered farm animals.) The ubiquitous brochures in tourist hotels are famously unreliable.
Certified Elephant-Friendly Tour Companies: Travelife has certified these destination management companies for offering humane elephant tourist sites, and for enforcing its standards for treatment and care. 1) ASIA DMC (84-24-373-3333; www.asiadmc.com); 2) Asian Trails (66-2-626-2000, Ext. 0; www.asiantrails.travel); 3) Buffalo Tours (66-2-245-6392, Ext. 0; U.S.: (844) 310-9883; www.buffalotours.com); 4) Destination Asia (66-2-127-5888; www.destination-asia.com); 5) Destination Services 66-2-245-1551, Ext. 0; www.destinationservices.com); 6) Diethelm Travel (66-2-782-7000, Ext. 0; www.diethelmtravel.com); 7) Easia Travel (84-243-933-1362; www.easia-travel.com); 8) EXO Travel (66-2-633-9060, Ext. 0; www.exotravel.com); 9) Go Vacation (66-2-267-1202; www.go-vacation.com); 10) Khiri Travel (66-2-968-6828; www.khiri.com
Treks and Hill Tribes
The treks usually stop at villages of two or three of the seven hill tribes found in Northern Thailand. Each tribe has a distinct language, a distinct costume and traditionally has had a distinct role in the opium trade. Some tribes mostly grew it for money; others raise it for their own consumption. These days opium is not as big a part of hill tribe life as it once was.
The Akha, who live mostly around Chiang Rai, are the most colorful tribe and the one that trekkers usually want to see. Ahka women smoke from bongs and wear intricately-woven black costumes and headdresses with yellow, red and white beads. During festivals and tourist visits, they wear heavy silver breast plates, bracelets and earrings as well as headdresses with dangling coins and silver balls.
Lisu women also wear colorful costumes and silver breastplates. The Lisu men use to raise opium for money but didn't smoke it much. The Lahu, on the other hand, raise opium to smoke and many Lahu men still indulge themselves in the drug. The costumes of Lahu women are more subdued than those of other tribes, and the children and men often dress in rags.
Better represented in Laos and Vietnam that Thailand, the Meo (Hmong) wear costumes somewhat similar to the Ahka. The Karens are the largest and least friendly hill tribe. They wear turbans and have raised opium to support insurgency groups battling for an independent state in Burma. The Karen are well known for their ability to handle elephants. Most mahouts (elephant drivers) are Karen. The Yao and Lawa are smallest and lest visited hill tribes.
While some villages have now had more than a decade of contact with visitors, most remote hill tribes still maintain most of their traditional practices and values. It is possible to do a village homestay with a remote hill tribe village or arrange accommodation from a boutique company that provides semi-authentic lodging with more agreeable facilities.
Hill Tribe Etiquette: 1) Many hill tribes fear photography. Don’t photograph anyone or anything without permission first. 2) Show respect towards religious objects and structures. Don’t touch anything or enter or walk through any religious structure unless you are sure it is okay. If in doubt ask. 3) Don’t interfere in rituals in any way. 4) Don’t enter a village house without permission or an invitation. 5) Error on the side of restraint when giving gifts. Gifts of medicine may undermine confidence in traditional medicines. Gift of clothes may encourage them to abandon their traditional clothes.
Two Day Trek Near the Thailand-Myanmar Border
Amit R. Paley wrote in the Washington Post, “I eventually found a Chiang Mai company that would take me on a two-day trek to see the Padaung and four other hill tribes; the trip also included a journey on an elephant, a bamboo rafting excursion and an overnight stay in a village. So that's how I found myself on a 90-degree day in July on the outskirts of a jungle in Chiang Dao, about 30 miles south of the Burma-Thailand border. There was lush green vegetation and fields of corn as far as the eye could see, and I expected any moment to see an exotic tribal village emerge in front of me. [Source: Amit R. Paley, Washington Post, August 23, 2009]
"Then my guide suddenly stopped, and a look of alarm crept over his face. "Where is the trail?!?" said the guide, Jakrapan Saengpayom, before turning to me. "Do you see it?" I did not. But after another hour plowing through dense brush that left our bodies covered in a nightmarish thorn known as butterfly grass, we arrived at our first village: the home of the Karen tribe, which is also originally from Burma. What exotic sights did we see? Several women in T-shirts and shorts cutting thin strips of wood to make baskets. "They don't like to wear their costumes," Saengpayom told me.
"We next headed to see a village of the Lisu, a tribe originally from Tibet that wears heavy, multicolored fabrics, and then the Akha, a tribe whose origins are traced to Mongolia and famed for their headwear of silver jewelry. Several villagers there wore traditional costumes, but most did not. It was only when we arrived late that afternoon at a Palaung village that we saw nearly everyone wearing traditional garb. Or, more accurately, nearly all the women. One of the striking things about all the hill tribes I saw is that there are elaborate get-ups or anatomical distortions required for women, while the men wear essentially Thai clothes.
"The final stop on the visit was an orchid and butterfly farm outside Chiang Dao. The delicate, multicolored creatures would occasionally launch into the air, flying up, up, up until they hit the mesh cages of the farm. Then the butterflies would flutter down to one of the artificial stands and spread their wings. I watched as tourists gaped and snapped pictures of their natural beauty."
MAE HONG SON
MAE HONG SON (near the Burmese border and reached by plane or a 245 kilometer road from Chang Mai) is located at a major crossroads used for centuries by opium traders, jade and ruby smugglers and hill tribes that live in the region. Nestled in a deep valley hemmed in by mountain ranges and rain forests, this beautiful little town has several beautiful wats and is often shrouded in mist. Many of the people that live here are Tai or Tai Yai, which are related to the Shan in Shan State across the border in Myanmar, and the Dai in the Yunnan Province of China.
Mae Hong Son has long been isolated from the outside world. For a long time the only roads that reached it were rough and winding and inaccessible in the rainy season. The name of Mae Hong Son refers to the fact that its terrain is highly suitable for the training of elephants. In fact, former governors of Chiang Mai used to organize the rounding up of wild elephants which were then trained in Mae Hong Son before being sent elsewhere for work. Elephants remain an important part of the local culture, and elephant trekking is a popular tourist activity, often combined with overnight hill tribe home stays and river rafting.
Mae Hong Son province features Burmese and Lanna style temples, hot springs, hill tribe villages, trekking, rafting, national parks, and even an annual reggae festival. Daily flights into Mae Hong Son’s small airport have the town much less isolated than it once was. The overland route from Chiang Mai is on a paved road that twists and turns through mountains, forest, agricultural areas, spectacular scenery and hill tribe communities, Those who are susceptible to motion sickness should take medication prior to setting out on the road between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son.
Tourist Office and Website: Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mae Hong Son Office, 4 Ratchathamphithak Road, Tambon Chong Kham, Amphoe Mueang, Mae Hong Son, 58000, Tel.+66 5361 2982-3, Fax. +66 5361 2984. E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org, Accommodation: As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, Mae Hong Son has a variety of accommodation options from hostels and home stays to romantic boutique resorts and luxury spa retreats. Website: tourismthailand.org/maehongson ;
Sights in Mae Hong Son
Overlooking a small lake encircled by palm groves, Wat Chong Kham is a delightful temple with beautiful white and gold Burmese-style buildings. The main chedis and stupas feature intricate Burmese-style patterns made with precious metals inlaid with colored glass and carved wood. Also located near a lake, Wat Chong Klang contains an interesting collection of 33 wooden figures, representing characters from the Vessantara Jataka, displayed in room covered with painted mirrors.
Activities offered from Mae Hong Son include trekking, white water rafting and exloring caves with enormous stalactites. If you get the chance check out “Ginga gala” bird dancing, which is often perfromed at local festivals. Treks from Mae Hong Song sometimes cross the border into Burma. They used to pass within view of the home of the infamous Shan warlord and opium king, Khun Sa, who, until his retirement in 1997, controlled much of the Golden Triangle’s opium and heroin trade as well as a large amount of territory in Myanmar. At his peak Khun Sa controlled own 10,000-man army and supplied and education system and hospitals for people in the territory he controlled,
Getting to Mae Hong Son
Mae Hong Son is best reached by air, though traveling via private car, public bus, or motorbike can be an adventure. The flight are not all that expensive. Once in Mae Hong Son there are local buses, songtaews, and motorbike taxis for trips between provincial towns and to attractions outside of those towns, such as hot springs and waterfalls.
By Air: Thai Airways flies between Bangkok and Mae Hong Son daily. Reservation should be made in advance to guarantee a seat on the once daily flight as the flight connects in Chiang Mai where it picks up more passengers for the shorter, slightly less expensive leg of the trip. Contact Thai Airways at Tel: 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000 or call 1566 or visit www.thaiairways.com for current schedule.
By Car: Mae Hong Son is located 924 kilometers from Bangkok. From Chiang Mai you can one take: 1) Route 108 which passes through Hot, Mae Sariang, and Khun Yuam on the way to Mae Hong Son, covering a distance of 349 kilometers; or 2) Route 1095 which passes through Mae Malai and Pai, covering a distance of 245 kilometers. By Bus: Muang Nuea Yan Yon Tour (Tel: (0 2936 3587-8) operates an air-conditioned bus which runs directly from Bangkok to Mae Hong Son every day. The bus departs from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) Bus Terminal at 6pm The trip takes about 17 hours. There are also buses from Chiang Mai. From Chiang Rai you have to pass through Chiang Mai.
Getting Around in Mae Hong Son
Mae Hong Song ‘city’ is a small town that can be explored on foot, though there are many tuk tuks for rides in and around the city. If you wish to visit remote hill-tribe villages, the only way to get to many is on foot. It is best to hire the services of a knowledgeable guide who is familiar with the local weather, terrain, and language rather than try to set out into the wilderness on your own.
Around the province: By Motorbike: Many of the guesthouses in provincial towns rent motorbikes for exploring the areas surrounding the towns, but visitors should be aware of the dangers of doing so. In addition to the occasional scam, foreigners are frequently involved in road accidents and Mae Hong Son features far more dangerous roads than it does first class medical facilities. If you must, ride carefully and wear both a helmet and closed-toed shoes. Motorbikes can be hired for 150-500 baht a day depending on size. By Bicycle: Bicycles can be hired in the provincial capital and in Pai. Simple pushbikes are inexpensive; nicer mountain bikes are a bit more expensive, but better for tackling hills.
By Car: A four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended for travel into the mountains, where not all roads are sealed. Drivers should exercise extreme caution and watch out for other drivers around blind corners as well as potholes and other adverse road conditions. It should also be noted that only Commercial First Class Insurance provides full coverage on rental cars (as opposed to limited personal or third party only insurance). Most international car rental agencies will offer this insurance (some only for those with a valid international driver’s license) while local companies may or may not. You may wish to request a copy of their insurance policy and ensure that it states "For Commercial Use". Regardless, inspect rental vehicles prior to rental and drive with caution, particularly as traffic in Thailand can be quite confusing, especially the habit of Thai motorcycles drivers to drive on the wrong side of the road.
By Bus, Songtaew, and Motorbike Taxi: In Mae Hong Son there are local buses, songtaews, and motorbike taxis for trips between provincial towns and to attractions outside of those towns. If you wish to check out a nearby hot spring or waterfall, a local bus or songtaew going in that direction won’t charge more than 10 or 20 baht per passenger to get you there, while motorbikes, which are the only method of getting to many attractions, will charge you several hundred baht for the convenience of guaranteeing you a ride back.
Places Around Mae Hong Son
Pha Bong Hot Spring (10 kilometers from Mae Hong Son on Highway No.108) covers an area of three acres. There are facilities for mineral water bathing. It is open everyday from 8:00am to 5:00pm
Mae Aw (43 kilometers north of Mae Hong Son on a mountain peak at the Myanmar border) is a Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) settlement, one of the last true KMT outposts in Thailand. According to Lonely Planet it is “filled with old renegade fighters, this is now a quiet place with people going about their business, but the scenery on the way up here, and in the town itself, is stunning. The modern Thai name for Mae Aw is Ban Rak Thai (Thai-Loving Village).
Tham Pla – Pha Suea National Park (17 kilometers from Mae Hong Son on Highway 1095, the Mae Hong Son-Pai road) features brooks and cool hilly forests. A special feature is a hollow cave filled with a kind of carp called as Pla Mung or Pla Khang. The fish are not caught as they are believed to belong to the gods. Open everyday from 8:00am - 6:00pm. Namtok Pha Suea waterfall is about 26 kilometers from Mae Hong Son on Route 1095 to Pai (left turn at km. 191) . It is best seen during the late rainy season (August-September). Pang Tong Royal Pavilion is a hilltop pavilion at Ban Mokchampae, some five kilometers beyond Pha Suea Waterfall. It is open every day from 8.30am to 4.30pm.
Pai (160 kilometers from Chiang Mai) is large town offering treks to fairly untouched villages. Nearby is the wonderful Cave Lodge, a sort of budget traveler resort made up off bamboo bungalows situated on a hill above a river. About 15 minutes from the lodge is a spectacular cave that goes right through a large hill. It is possible to climb on platforms within the cave. During the dry season you can float from one side of the cave to the other.
Huai Nam Dang National Park (Mae Hong Son) covers an area of 180 square kilometers in Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son Provinces. Most of the area is mountains or forested highlands. Attractions include: Huai Nam Dang Viewpoint or Doi Kiu Lom. The latter overlooks Doi Chiang Dao and is a superb spot to watch the sunrise over misty valleys. To get there, drive along Mae Malai-Pai Road to between km. 65-66, and then take a 6-kilometer access road to the park office. Doi Chang Viewpoint is located 20 kilometers beyond the Huai Nam Dang Viewpoint. Only a four-wheel vehicle can make the trip. Camping is possible, visitors must bring their own tents and food. For more information, Tel: 0 5324 8491, 0 5322 9636, 0 2562 0760 or www.dnp.go.th. Nearby attractions in Mae Hong Son province such as Pong Nam Ron Tha Pai (hot spring) and Namtok Mae Yen (waterfall) are worth visiting.
PADAUNG LONG NECK WOMEN
Long Neck Women can be seen around Mae Hong Son, Huay Puu Kaen and Nao Soi. In Mae Hong Son visitors pay $10 to be driven to a village where they can gawk at and take photographs of long necked woman. In Huay Puu Kaeng long necked women are paid by operators to live in a village on the Pai River that can only be reached by boat.
The Padaung’s famous long-necked women wear brass coils — not rings — around their necks. A symbol of wealth, position and beauty, the coils can stretch their necks over a foot and weigh over 20 pounds According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world record for longest neck — 40 centimeters (15¾ inches) — belonged to a Padaung woman. The Ndebele in South Africa wear rings around their necks. Padaung means “long neck.” The coils are made from brass and gold alloy. Because long necked women can't lean their head's back, they drink from straws. According to the British journalist J.G. Scott there voices sound "as if they were speaking from the bottom of a well.”
Padaung women might appear to have long necks but this is an optical illusion. As the coils are added they push the collar bone and ribs down, creating the appearance of a longer neck. Actually stretching the neck would result in paralysis and death. Removing the coils does not cause a woman's neck to collapse, although the muscles weaken.
Paduang Long Necked Women Trek
Describing a trek that climaxed with a trip to a Padaung village Amit R. Paley wrote in the Washington Post, In the “morning I scrambled up on an elephant for an hour-long ride that left me sore all over (pachyderms, in case you were wondering, are not ergonomically designed) and a hour-long trip down the Ping River on a bamboo raft precariously held together by strips of rubber tire (I thought all was lost when the raft guide fell into the water after we bumped over some nasty rapids, but he recovered and got us to shore). [Source: Amit R. Paley, Washington Post, August 23, 2009 +++]
“Eventually we arrived at our main destination, the village of the long-necked women. It was off a dirt road, and a man at a booth in the front charged us 300 Thai baht (about $9) a person to enter. It didn't look like a village at all. We were ushered into a 50-square-yard collection of shacks where two dozen Padaung women sat and sewed or tried to sell their wares. There were no men in sight and only a handful of tourists during my two-hour visit. The women were as breathtaking as I imagined. Their heads seem to float ethereally over their bodies. In person they looked less like giraffes than swans, regal and elegant.” +++
Trekking Guide Stung to Death by Giant Wasps as Tourists Look on in Horror
In October 2019, a guide take a group of French tourists on a hike near Chiang Mai was stung to death by giant wasps. Newsflare reported: “Horrified tourists saw their tour guide stung to death by crazed giant wasps, who then feasted on his body for four days. Sanchai Phaoarun, 58, was taking a French couple sightseeing in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand in the afternoon. But mid-way through a mountain trek the group was suddenly surrounded by thousands of angry hornets after their hive was disturbed. They dive-bombed Sanchai and repeatedly stung him across his body. The guide collapsed on the ground in agony while the terrified couple, from France, fled in panic. Locals from the nearest village heard crying for help from the two tourists, Jean Louis L'amour and Anne Mapile, who had also been stung. They were taken to hospital. [Source: Newsflare, October 30, 2019]
“Rescue workers found Sanchai's dead body later that day but they were unable to retrieve it as it was still being feasted upon by the killer Asian hornets, or vespa velutina. After being left in the deep forest for four days, the sting-riddled body was finally retrieved on Tuesday (October 29) afternoon. Police Liutenant Colonel Sampan Yotin blamed the nightmare-like death on the wasps and said it was not being treated as suspicious. He said: ''The station received a report about the death of the tour guide last week but the team was unable to collect the body. ''The French tourists were also injured.
“They have provided testimony about what happened and there are no suspicious circumstances.'' One of the rescuer volunteers involved with retrieving the body said it was difficult because the hornets were still swarming around the corpse. They added: "We went into the wood on Monday to help the tour guide but the mission had to be abandoned after three of our team members were stung by the hornets that were swarming around their bodies. "We planned for a safer method by covering our bodies with firefighters' suits and went in again today and finally we were able to carry the body out." The local guide's body was handed over to the family who will hold the Buddhist funeral.”
Text Sources: Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books and other publications.
Last updated August 2020