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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Monarch’s Footprints: Hill Tribe Transformation

Many young individuals and foreigners often wonder about the deep-seated love and devotion Thai people hold for the monarchy. The answer lies in places like Doi Pha Mee, located in Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai Province. This area holds numerous stories marking King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s footprints during his reign. His Majesty and the Queen visited the location thrice in 1970, 1971, and 1974. Their visits catalyzed the transformation of an erstwhile opium-poppy cultivation area, which was a deforested mountain near the Myanmar border, into a flourishing forest and natural tourist attraction.

This transformation initiated the first Arabica coffee growth in Thailand, providing employment opportunities and replacing opium and shifting cultivation with forest plants. Consequently, Doi Tung and Khun Naang Nong Mountain have become pristine natural tourist destinations, particularly during the rainy season when tourists flock to experience Khun Naang Non’s beauty.

The majority of Doi Pha Mee residents belong to the Akha hill tribe, boasting their own language, culture, and traditions. The area has evolved to incorporate homestays and coffee shops, all with well-designed photo spots, viewpoints, and places to enjoy tea and coffee. The community has also developed workshops on community wisdom, coffee processing innovations, and sustainable coffee grinding alternatives.

workshop drip coffee by villager wisdom way.

Beyond being the first coffee plantation area, Doi Pha Mee is renowned for its excellent coffee quality due to its limestone terrain and high mineral content, offering a mellow flavor. It’s also a hub for macadamia nut cultivation, a royal initiative that has significantly improved the locals’ livelihoods and bolstered their economic stability.

This enduring bond began from King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s sustainable vision, transforming a remote area into a developed region. This development has profoundly improved the hill tribe people’s lives, leading them to remain loyal and grateful for the royal benevolence till today. This intertwined history has fostered a robust bond between the Royalty and the hill tribe people.

Written By:  Prakaidown Baengsuntia

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