Before we left for Thailand, a good friend of ours told us we had to get to the viewpoint (see map) on Phu Chi Fa mountain and watch the sunrise. We decided we couldn’t pass up the chance to drive through the clouds and enjoy an amazing view. So we decided to jump on our scooter at 4:30am and venture up to watch the sunrise over the Thailand-Laos border. On the climb to the viewpoint we passed by several Hmong Tribe children dressed in traditional clothing playing instruments and singing songs to the people passing. They walked around the entire time we were there looking utterly adorable. Although we had read that we would be seeing these children, it was still a bit of a shock to see them, essentially as buskers, performing for the tourists. This little girl was with two other girls, holding hands and walking around taking photos with tourists in hopes of receiving small donations. She was just too cute and precious in her tribal clothing and pink monkey scarf – we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a photo of her!
We had mixed feelings upon seeing the children. We felt it was close to exploitation having them up so early in the morning, walking the cold mountain top and working by performing for strangers instead of being in school learning or back home playing like a child. On the other hand, we know they have to make a living and have different values and lifestyles than our own. We understand and respect cultural differences and try not to look at the world from an ethnocentric point of view but it’s hard when it comes to children.