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For a moment I felt as though I was walking through a diorama at the Museum of Natural History - but with live mannequins. We trekked over 13 kilometers ("grueling" - JoJo would add) to this village in the hills northwest of Luang Namtha. A few hundred people live here, all part of the Akha ethnic group. They don't get a lot of visitors.

There was a funeral going on the day we showed up and they'd just slaughtered a water buffalo for the occasion. Someone told our guide that the woman who died was over 100, but how could they know - most people don't make it to 60. And yes, this women is smoking a pipe.

They have no electricity or phone. It's a 2 hour walk to the nearest village. The tour groups that run these treks keep numbers limited - they don't want the village being overrun by scores of gawking falangs sporting cameras (like me). Part of our trekking fee goes to providing them with some basics, like a hand pump for clean water, health care, a school.

Lady with Pipe