It’s been a couple of months since I last wrote and during that time my family and I had the opportunity to visit Thailand over the holidays. We had a wonderful time together and learned a lot about a part of the world that is so different from what we are used to in the West. While we were there, we traveled to the mountainous regions of northern Thailand and visited several hill tribe villages. The term hill tribe refers to ethnic minorities who migrated to Thailand within the last 200 years from China (Hmong and Yao peoples), Tibet (Akha, Lahu and Lisu tribes), and Burma/Myanmar (the Karen tribe, the ones with the long, ringed necks). All of the tribes live an agricultural life, cultivating rice, corn, vegetables, fruit and opium, and some some raise livestock. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit the Karen tribe. The villages we visited had limited electricity and little indoor plumbing and their homes were mostly made of bamboo and thatched roofs. They face many challenges: poverty, limited education, drug abuse, prostitution and AIDS are common. Their traditional clothing was awesome, lit with brilliant bold colors which they enthusiastically displayed to draw attention to the handcrafts for sale. Many of the older folks had red-stained or black stained teeth and gums and the effect was quite startling! Their grins were a result of residue from chewing the betel nut, a mild hallucinogen. They are quite nonchalant about it, and I chuckled to myself thinking what my before/after album would look like if one of them would agree to even a minimum of modern cosmetic dentistry! I am including a few photos in this blog. It is quite amazing how arbitrary and random our cultural cosmetic preferences are!
That’s my youngest son, Andy, on the left in the far right picture. I’m not sure which of the two of them thought the other one was stranger!
Well, that’s all for today. I will try to write more often!
Until next time, Mark W Langberg, DDS