In Mae Hong Son province, Doi Kloselo tourist attractions are to be created in a desperate attempt by locals to stop a planned hydropower dam on the Salween River.
The Salween is one of Asia’s last largely free-flowing rivers. About 3,300 kilometres long, the Salween flows from the Tibetan Plateau south into the Andaman Sea, primarily within southwest China and eastern Myanmar, but with a short section forming the border between Thailand and Myanmar.
The Myanmar side is the planned site of a cascade of six massive dams in some of the most lawless regions of the country. Most of the electricity generated will be sold to Thailand, but the plan is opposed by locals who wish to conserve nature and protect the river.
Local communities want to create an eco-friendly tourist destination in Doi Kloselo. Tourists have been discouraged from travelling in the areas due to clashes between the Myanmar army and a rebel group.
Despite the difficult travelling, Doi Kloselo is certainly worth visiting. Visitors can depart from Mae Sam Lab pier and travel along the river for around an hour to Ban Sop Moei village. Then, visitors can take local transportation to Mon Diao Dai, where there are astonishing views of fog blanketing both sides of the river each morning.
Pongpipat Meebenjamas, chairman of Mae Sam Lab Tambon, said…
“I hope that people will be able to focus on the scenery of Doi Kloselo and erase all their memories and anxieties about conflicts in Myanmar. I want everyone to notice the possibilities of tourism in the area.”
Pongpipat urged the government to create tourism infrastructure in Ban Mae Sam Lab village. Doi Kloselo has been approved as an eco-friendly tourism spot with sustainable development goals and participation of the local communities of Pakakayor Karen people.
Pianporn Deetes, regional campaign director of International Rivers, said the Salween River flows independently from headwaters on the Himalayas to the Andaman Sea and that its ecosystem and Doi Kloselo tourist attractions deserve to be protected by communities on both sides.
The hydroelectric program has been opposed by local people for two decades. Mountainous areas near the river are home to at least 13 ethnic groups such as the Lawa, Palong and Thai Yai. These ethnic groups tend to stay together as a community in the valleys and historical sites along the Salween River.
Possible tourist destinations include archaeological sites at Ban Tha Ta Fang village in Mae Sariang district, the frontlines of the ancient Lanna kingdom.
Traces of old temples are scattered from Muang district upwards to Pai district, which was a strategic location on both sides of the Salween River when the teakwood industry flourished and communities joined in foreign trade with Europe.
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