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We slip down muddy paths, cutting through the sheer rice terraced slopes. Beads of sweat drip from my Hmong guide’s nose. It’s still early in rainy season. Farmers line the terraced hills stuffing bundles of young rice shoots into the mud. A cloud passes by, almost brushing our cheeks.

Across the mountain looming in front of us lies Yunnan Province, China. We’re walking through the hills of Northern Vietnam. To the west the mountain range gives way to Laos, Myanmar and eventually Thailand. But my guide doesn’t much care for country borders. The Hmong people are spread all accross this region, she tells me the concept of national borders seems irrelevant.

Two years later I walk out of my suburban home in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. It’s a cold damp day, early in rainy season. On the mountain to the west the clouds hug the jungle floor. While national borders may be irrelevant, the wet concrete below my feet was once considered the same ground as in those muddy rice fields of Vietnam.


Lanna is a travel book exploring the contemporary world of the former ‘Lanna Kingdom’ or ‘Kingdom of Chiang Mai’.

About the author: Francis Wilmer