Over the recent long weekend the village of Pong Yang Nok had its first traffic jams this year as flocks of visitors headed up from the village to take in the vistas and cool clouds of Mon Jam.
Following the removal of dozens of tented camps, guesthouses and homestays earlier this year due to illegal encroachment on Forestry Land, and a surge of Covid-19 which saw much of the sub-district closed to visitors in June, many who used to work in the tourism industry had turned to farming, and foraging in the forest for survival over the past few months.
“Our weekend jungle markets have been very busy this year because for many people this is the only way they can make money,” said Aom who works as a cleaner for multiple rental properties in the area. “We have all been going into the forest to search for edibles from mushrooms to bamboo shoots. Even insects and worms that we can sell.”
This recent weekend was a relief for many who have been preparing for the return of tourists, with cafes, new shops and restaurants opening up in the area in anticipation.
Mon Jam saw larger crowds than it has seen all year and villagers say that they are gearing up for a vibrant high season.