As part of my work for Capital Television Group I have a wonderful chance to travel, around the world in years gone by, but recently to a hidden jungle location in Northwest Thailand.
Laytongku Village is an extremely remote Karen hill-tribe settlement in Tak Province on the Myanmar border, the settlement dates back around 250 years, its accessed by traversing the notorious Death Highway 1090 and then a 20 Km dirt track through the mountains on tracks that can only be accessed by 4 wheel drive or endure motorcycles.
The Karen people who live in the area follow a belief called ”Animism” translated means “breath, spirit & life”. Animism is believed to be the oldest belief systems on the planet and aims to live with nature showing respect to the environment and does not control or destroy. Unfortunately about 50 years ago some enthusiastic so called Christian missionaries headed by a Mr Allan Eubank targeted these people for conversion! Christianity did eventually get a foothold on these people through persistence but fortunately these people have been able to hold onto their Animism beliefs and traditions to a certain degree and have not been completely suppressed.
The Thai government and NGO’s do a lot of good work here, helping these people with self-sufficiency, education and resources and small discrete scale hydroelectric systems can be seen at the waterfalls around the village.