Apho Ratanawichaikul in the Park [DV CAM 3B]



[TC 01:35:00]


Š The people from outside they come to the radio station sometime and say: OK, I want to do this, this and this with you... I really want to do it for them now, I want to work for them now, but my boss says: No, you have to pass by the boss. Like today, I am really confused today. Last time when I came with my friend they asked: Can we take a pictureŠ


Dara: Do you think that your new life in Chiang Mai is better than life in the mountains?


[TC 02:20:00]

Itıs a very hard question. I think that sometimes I am really sad about my life.  I want to be like the old woman in the mountain who doesnıt know the Thai culture around here.  Why wasnıt I born a hundred years ago? Only living in the jungle with Akha people... I feel sorry for the people who are 45 years, 40 years or 50 years in the mountains now, that they have two pasts.


Dara:  So theyıre living in both worlds?


[TC 03:03:00]

A: Yes. You know, for many people in the mountains now their children live in the city and only the parents are left in the village. So they donıt feel like one family. I am really sorry about that. And when the children come back from school, they can not follow each other sometimes. The mother and father want this and the children say: No, thatıs not my idea, thatıs not correct, they are fighting by looking or by talking like this. The two cultures are too different. For example now the young people go back to the village. They donıt know the words, how to speak so they start to talk in Thai language. If they speak in Thai language their parents donıt understand. Very sad. For myself I donıt want to say that I prefer life here to life in the mountains, but I can tell you, we can not live in the mountains without problems now, because itıs not like it used to be. Before, we just stayed were we want to build a new life.


[TC 04:26]

Before we just stayed where we wanted and start a new life. We didnıt have to be afraid about the government. And now, where we stay we have to have the number of the village, where we want to start anew, and also we have to inform the government about it. Also many new things from the city come up to the mountains, so itıs difficult for the young people to live in the mountain-area because Š not enough to work and also everything changes. If you want a good life, you have to study at a high step to get a better job. You know, many people who come to the city donıt study. They do very easy jobs.  They have a job, like, in the restaurant.


[TC 05:30]

And then itıs the same every year. They get lost slowly. And they donıt have education. Every year they have the same job.  So the money they get day-by-day is just enough for living. So one day they get sick, one day they wonıt, and they can not work for this job and it will be very difficult. And many young people who decided to come to the city and who have worked there already for a year or so go back to the village. The people there, it made them lazy. Itıs not strong hearted to decide whether to stay here or to stay there. Thatıs a very difficult life.


Dara: And how about for you?


[TC 06:24]

A: For me now?


Dara: Do you find it difficult being in Chiang Mai and the future for you because thereıs no elders for you here also?


[TC 06:40]

A: For me, only for me thereıs no problem now. I can live in the city without a problem.

Dara: But what difficulties do you find not having the older people in the city? I know you have the older people in the mountains but thereıs none. How do you find that?


[TC 07:05]

A: I donıt know. But the people who have education, who have the job they just mix with the Thai people here to buy a house, stay on the job and things like that. Like Asseu, like me, we have a job here. We can not reach the government job, but we have enough to live on.


[TC 07:30]

And, about us, the Akha people: to start to have the village is difficult. If somebody wants to do that, they have to go a little bit outside of Chiang Mai to buy the land in order to build a house and keep their own culture. But the problem is not where to work, not the rice field, not everyday cultural work,  just to earn money by hand works, thatıs difficult.


Dara: Was it difficult to get a Thai ID-card or passport?


[TC 08:13]

A: Very difficult. The first group of Akha people who lived here a long time ago they have them already. Like me, they donıt have problems with ID-cards because when the Thai government wants to have the information of how many Akha people are living here, then our parents provide them with the information. We give them our namesŠ and then we get ID-cards, which are like Thai peopleıs ID cards, easily. Still thereıs many tribal people from Laos maybe, from Thailand, maybe from Burma, itıs mostly Burmese, move from there to here.


Dara: They come across the border?

[TC 09:08]


Yeh, and they donıt have ID-cards. They think they wonıt have any problems, they, too, think they can live here in Thailand, stay in the mountains. But they can not live Š with the Thai people. So the Thai people have to go to the mountain and the people also come to the city, so the police always checks if you have ID-cards with you or not. If they donıt have any, they are taken to jail. If they want to be released, they firstly have to pay money to the police and then theyıre send back to their country.  Still, many people who donıt want to stay in Burma, keep coming over, including Akha people.   


Dara: Thereıs tribal people who have not been registered. Theyıre always in hiding in Thailand, but they have no registration before. Itıs difficult for them, also. Like your parents, theyıre registered. But there have to be some people who are not registered.


[TC 10:15

A: There is. Some of them, including people who lived in Thailand for a long time donıt have an ID-card. Why, because they donıt think itıs necessary so they donıt give information to the Thai people. 

Thai people check how many people live here right now. They cannot give ID-cards to everybody. We can not hand them out to everybody, the government says, we donıt know who they are, why donıt they go back to their own country?. They donıt want to give the Thai land or Thai jobs to tribal people. But now they just changed it.

If they stay longer than ten years, the government goes to look in the village, how they live, what kind of ethical, cultural thing they do and whether they move often or not. If they donıt move, the government has enough information to give them ID-cards. 


Dara: Other people normally buy the Akhaıs work and sell it for more money. But this is a place where if somebody can make something they can sell it whereever they like in Japan, in Holland, in England and take the money directly.


[TC 12:13]

This you can ---counter--- develop...


Dara: This is just one thing but there could be many things like this. This one way of thinking can work for many different things. If you want to keep a cultural history then it can be kept here. If you want to keep an oral tradition of ceremonies it doesnıt have to be written. Your having so many trouble from new script, Thai script, everything. All this can be kept on the oral tradition on the internet. So if somebody wants to have a Thai have a Akha child in Chiang Mai and he wants to know what was it like or even in Holland or Belgium he can look on the internet. And itıs then like a library, a cultural library also left for anywhere in the world where somebody may end up once people leave the mountains they can end up, maybe Cuba.


Also we want to work with Deuleu and Golden Triangle and also Leo and with the archive of his collecting all the spoken words. Everybody can use it. You could also if you have an email you can probably keep in touch easy with your friends in Holland but also the music from the radio station conducted on the net.


[TC 14:05 ]

Apho: The problem is it is not so easy to have internet and computers at my work.


Dara: But I mean itıs coming so fast. Four years ago nearly nobody in England had computers. Now nearly everybody is having... so you can say within the next five years itıs gonna become easier.


[TC 14:41]

A: Last months, about 3 weeks ago, also a guy from Holland came visiting the radio station and said maybe he could choose one or two person from this radio station to train them about radio station programme. So yesterday I got a letter from him saying that heıs trying to find the money. If he can raise it Iıd have to go.


Dara: Thatıd be good. You know, you can also make radio on the internet. Did you ever have a look on the internet?


[TC 15:49:00]

A: No. My sister, sheıs looked very well, sheıs doing very well and sheıs the member of the internet, so, whenever I want to send an internet to my friends, I just write a message on a piece of paper and she does it for me. I donıt know how to use it myself because I donıt know about computers.


Dara: Very simple now. Maybe Tarik can show you bits.


[TC 16:22]

A: Everythingıs very easy to learn about computers but at my work itıs not allowed for

everyone to use the computer. And theyıre very slow.     


[TC 16:44]

This is my brother (showing photo to camera) who finished studying law. My younger brother, his name is Aoye, he studied in Bangkok, he studied law and now heıs finished and he works in the bank in Chiang Rai.

[TC 17:19]

This is the first Akha man who finished a law-degree. He works in a bank. This is my sister.

[TC 17:32]

My sister, her name is Iminium. She also finished. She studied in the latter part of Chiang Mai. And now she works for the NGO projects which is sponsored by Germany.  She works to solve the problems of the children who come to work in the city. And this is my sister in Akha dress. This is me with very short hair, like you. Thatıs the way I was with Leo [ed: staying at SEAMP as student], ten years ago.