Many of the villages I have been visiting have already been relocated near to a road – it might be a motorbike road, or a road only accessible in the dry season but it’s more than a footpath. Proponents argue these movements and consolidations also increase the access of rural populations to health and education services. Others might say it is to keep an eye on what they are doing and to foster or impel their incorporation into the emerging market economy.
Anyhow, limited access to land near their new village location means the villagers often have to travel back to their old fields. A long way.
A lot changes in four weeks, the green rice fields of last month are now golden and ready for harvesting. I spent a week earlier this month with several Akha and Hmong families, whilst they headed up to the hills to harvest their hill rice.