After our cave tour we headed off to Baan Muang Paem a Karen village about 7 km from Cave Lodge. I’d come across Muang Paem in my CBT research as well, but hadn’t figured out where it was located so was excited to find it on the map and within walking distance of Cave Lodge. This was the perfect kind of day where we had made the decision to visit last minute enough and we had so little information in hand that no real expectations were formed.
We followed the road out of town and climbed up, up, up, crossing over the ridge line and dropping down into the next valley. We passed more soy bean and corn fields, stopping now and then to check out the small split bamboo huts in the fields. As I walked a small hope emerged- because Muang Paem is a Karen village and because the map mentioned weaving, maybe, just maybe, I would come across a woman weaving and would be able to buy a few pieces. I love Karen weaving for many reasons, it is stunning and durable, but mostly because it reminds me of Tee.
After crossing a small water buffalo studded river, we’d reached Baan Muang Paem. A map at the edge of the village showed Muang Paem’s small CBT set up with opportunities to stay in the village, trek in the jungle, explore the caves, learn bamboo and backstrap loom weaving, and make natural textile dyes. Since we arrived around lunch time we were on the lookout for food, but just inside the village a woman was weaving outside her home and we stopped to take a look. Soon two other weavers from neighboring homes had spotted us and quickly came over with their wares as well. While petting all the pretty shawls, blankets, and bags we met Gaymoo. Gaymoo quickly became the highlight of our stay.
Gaymoo is a local guide and after a quick inquiry about lunch options he offered to cook for us at his home. While we wrapped things up with the weavers Gaymoo set off to start collecting fruit for lunch. Soon we we shown through the village and settled in on the cool tile floor of Gaymoo’s house. He apologized for his lack of cooking abilities, his wife usually does the cooking, as he served us plate after plate of food. We started with papaya and passion fruit with pints of hot tea, followed by noodle soup with egg and greens, then green starfruit dipped in salt to finish. It was all simple and delicious.
Best of all was chatting with Gaymoo, he told us stories about the sleeping in the jungle and rescuing lost hikers at night. He was also so tickled to find out that I was married to a fellow Karen. Baan Muang Paem is a wonderful village and if you want to visit, give Gaymoo a call and he’ll get you sorted 083-5730127 or 095-8425502
Part 3: We decided to skip Baan Mae Lana and go to Mae Hong Son!!
Thanks Caroline and Robert for joining me on these adventures and for your photos.