Saturday, February 14, 2009

Piang Luang( เปียงหลวง)邊龍村

Beautiful Yunan chinese girl
My little friend that played football with us every evening. He is a Shan boy.
The Lemang alike of tribal people,bamboo filled with black glutinous rice
The flower remind us that Christmas is coming
The harvest season of paddy is over, but galic season is still on.
The village path to Hui Hai village
The school children coming back from Thai school, walking in the town wearing their school uniform.
The Shan people
Another view of the town from the higher ground
The view from the higher part of the town
The drying of vegetables and lobak(white carrot), a common sight for the village houses.
The school block donated by Teressa Teng Foundation(Foundation set up in memory of famous Taiwanese singer, Teressa Teng). We took the picture at night while visiting the Chinese school. The school is only opened at night, as the students only able to come at night, in the morning they attend Thai school.
We take a rest at the road side ,this is the view from one resting point at the high mountain road
The locals said they have pink Sakura flower in Piang Luang. The flowers are still in the closet, but after we left the place, it was reported in the newspaper that the flowers has blossom.
On the way to Piang Luang from Chiang Dao, Chiang Rai. It was hours of winding road

Piang Luang( เปียงหลวง)邊龍村

Today, I remember my friends in Piang Luang, a border village town in Northern Thailand. Their simple and peaceful life style still linger in my memory. I spent an eventful Christmas there last year,2008.

Piang Luang( 邊龍) is located at the border of Burma and Thailand. The meaning of Piang Luang is great plain. It is located at the Wiang Haeng district(孟幸縣)(Thai: เวียงแหง) in the northern part of Chiang Mai Province(清邁省), At the other side of the border is the Shanland of Burma. There is one official crossing to Burma, but there are many unofficial mountain crossing to Burma, and many has closed, and filled with bobby traps and land mines. There are 3 subdistricts or tambons. They are Mueang Haeng(เมืองแหง), Saen Hai (แสนไห)and Piang Luang(เปียงหลวง). There are total 26 mubans or villages in the district. The neighbouring districts are Chiang Dao, a famous tourist location due to the hill of Doi Dao; and Pai of Mae Hong Soon Province.

The area is the home of many hill tribes, including the Shan, Lahu, Lishu and other hill tribal people. The majority in Piang Luang is Shan tribe, local and refugee from the neighbouring Burma. There are also large number of Yunan Chinese, who are the descendant of the Kuomintang army. The Shan people is fighting a war with the Burmese, every Shan believed that under the Piang Luang Agreement, that Shanland is an independent nation.

The town is mainly agricultural based. Their products including galic, rice, coffee, lyechee, mango, pipeapple, papaya, potato, yam and tea. Most of the young people left the village town and work in Chiang Mai(for those who are not citizen but having PR), Bangkok, or work oversea in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore or even Malaysia.

There are school provided by the Thai government, but for the children of refugee, who are illegal resident without official identification,they cannot go to government school. The Yunan Chinese are much better, as there is a Chinese school 邊龍光華中學 ( from primary to secondary) in the town, which followed the Taiwan education system. The Chinese children who are schooling in the Thai school in the morning will attend the Chinese scool at night. There are 827 students. The Chinese school are privately run by the local Chinese, sponsored by donation, mainly by donation from Taiwan. Teressa Teng Foundation (鄧君)donated a school block to the school, and a Taiwanese Catholic group(Ming Ai Hui明愛會) is closely helping financially and in training of the teachers. The school is the 3rd largest Chinese school in Chiangmai Province. We are amazed with the local students, they need to attend Thai school in the morning, and also attend the Chinese school at night. The Yunan Chinese love their Chinese heritage and language.

There are other NGO helping in the education of hill people and refugee. Their children also can attend the Chinese school.

For the Yunan Chinese, the war is over long ago, but they are facing some social-political problem on their citizen identity and the restriction on them to travel out from the province, except for those who are having citizenship of Thailand. Some of them are also refugee from Burma, without identification. There are 3 categories of people, (i) citizen of Thailand,who are free to travel in Thailand, and can applied passport to oversea, they are normally Yunan Chinese and tribal people who are descendants of the Taiwanese army (ii) Refugee status, mainly for those who are in Thailand for more than 20 years, they can travelled within Chiangmai province; but cannot go to Bangkok and other area of Thailand, & (iii) Stateless or people with no status, who are restricted to stay only in the village, and cannot move out of the village town.

There are many stories in Piang Luang, every resident, young or old, have great story to tell. The story of their village, their parents, their schools, their family, the war, the drug trade......there is no ending story despite this village town is peaceful and located within the mountains.

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