See Off This Mountain

The title of this entry comes from the last song on the Edwin McCain song “Messenger.” Edwin McCain, despite his origins in South Carolina (a state I’m not particularly fond of, and which I don’t hold against him), has an Appalachian populist streak that I’m fond of, considering our backgrounds are not too dissimilar. I chose this particular title because the village of Mae Sa Luang (where Legacy Institute is located) sits within the Tombol (sub-district) of Mae Sa. The Mae Sa valley (which I have not had a chance to see yet, because I don’t know of any sungtow routes that go there, and because my feet and bicycling skills are not well suited to hilly areas) is a fairly touristy area whose green hills I can see from within the village. To get to the valley one would go just north of Mae Rim, connect with the Mae Sa valley route, and then continue through the valley going east and southeast until you get to an area East of Chaing Mai, at which point you can connect with another route into the city. It would probably be best to take such a route with motorized transportation, given its length and the hilly nature of the terrain. As a whole, looking at the Mae Sa Valley reminds me of Appalachia. The hills and streams/rivers that come down remind me of the piedmont country of Western Pennsylvania or West Virginia. The fact that the valley has attracted tourists as well as a large number of hill tribes whose histories are not too dissimilar from my own red and white ancestors of the Appalachian mountains suggests that there is some connection between culture and geography. I wonder about the history of those mountains, traditionally a border region between the Thai and Burmese culture regions, originally inhabited, it appears, by the Karen. I wonder as well about the orogeny (mountain formation) of those hills. The area alongside the border of Burma and Thailand is near some fault lines, notably between the Burma plate, Sunda Plate, Eurasian plate, and Indo-Australian plate. Though there seems to be little seismicity in this part, there is at least the potential for some earthquake material, and given the fault line of the human geography of the region, it would not be surprising to see some reflection of this division within the geology of what is a complicated part of the earth’s crust [1]. I have not been able to find any information on the orogeny of the Mae Sa Valley. It would appear that given the fact that all of northern Thailand is located in a zone of mountain building (which is what orogeny means), that the resemblance between the Appalachians and Mae Sa Valley is somewhat accidental. After all, the Appalachians are supposedly very old mountains being worn down by the winds and rivers, while the Mae Sa Valley and the hills along the border between Burma and Thailand (not particularly far from where I am) are a zone of active mountain building such as the coastal range of Southern California. I have not had any luck in finding any geologists who are experts in the mountain building of these hills, though the study of fault lines, both human and geological, is a major interest of mine. It’s not surprising in the least, given my own background and personal experience.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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