A different way of life - Long Neck Karen

Mae Hong Son Travel Blog

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Karen's house

 

Before leaving Maehongson we'd like to go to one place, the Long Neck Karen Village. I know 3 of them in this province. A) Ban Nam Peang Din B) Ban Houy Sue Tao C) Ban Nai Soi. A kind and friendly policeman (one in millions!) told us that it's easy to go to Ban nai soi from here and there's the same as the others. Ok, the A) choice is the original one but we have to take a long tail boat in an early morning but now we're late .. so let's go to Ban Nai soi.

The police told me the way, he explained in Thai and I forgot :P So .. we lost! Lucky there's a man park the motorbike in this lonely road. We asked him how to go to Ban nai soi. He explained us the way - clearly! Almost say goodbye then Ale asked him to come with us.

Ban Nai soi village
He said "it's alright." Then we saw his bike, it was broken. He said "yes, i'm fixing it." So I asked him where is his house? We'll send you there. He said "no problem". But I think if we left him here, don't know how long does it take to fix the bike alone. And he got two big bags to carry back home. So please come with us. He was shy. He didn't want to bother us. Aww, no problem either. You told us the way, you're kind too. Just go!

We took his bike to the back of the cab and went ahead. After a while we passed a motorbike shop. He asked us to stop there to fix it. Then we said thanks and bye but he said "I'll leave the bike here and I'll go with you to send you off at the Karen village so that you won't get lost". Me "And how can you get back here?" He "I'll walk". Walk????! He said "don't worry, it's not far".

Hehe .. look alike?
So we said "so if it's not far, we can go, don't worry". He insisted to do but I don't let him go anyway :)

:) Nice one!

Twenty minutes later we arrived the village. (what if that guy walk?! 20 minutes by car but if he walked .. how long?!

The road to this village is nice but the street in front of the village - just 500 meters was broken by the flood. Good that we have the cab. A normal car might be broken on this road.

Oh, quiet viallage! 

We signed at the ticket point and paid.  Just only one group before us and they were there just 5 minutes and gone.

100 meters from the gate, there are about 10 handmade shops with about 8-10 long neck karens.

She's beautiful!
Just only women. Some can speak English but can't speak thai. They were taught to say like "how much?" "100 THB" "50 THB" "Beautiful" .. something like that. Usually they speak their language. I don't understand it.

Long time ago, the Padong hill-tribe lived in Mianmar. After the war of Mianmar goverment and Karen people some of them immigrated to live here. Now for us, they are Thai. Firstly they lived at Ban Nam Peang Din then moved to the other two villages. One of them is here. Padong women always wear the brass ring on the neck, arms and legs. Adding one by one when they grow up each year. They start wearing it since 5-6 years old - about 20 rings maximum in their lives.

Some said they do it for beauty. Some said to show the family financial.

Me and the long neck karens :)
But some said to protect the marriage across the tribe. But there's another legend saying that long time ago the ghost and spirit were angry at Padong and sent the tigers to bite all the women. So Padong women had to wear those rings to protect themselves from the tigers.

People thought that those brass rings make their neck longer but the prove by the doctor isn't like that. Those brass rings pressed their shoulder - the bones are getting lower then make the neck looks longer but in fact it isn't.

We took about 5 minutes to walk around. Nothing to see. Every shop has the same stuff. This village isn't lively. I heard that most of Karens moved to the city or even bangkok to find a job to do. They are tired to live here. A few money they got isn't enough for their families.

Teacher's room
Our goverment is trying to find a job for them here and give them a lot of help to bring them back. I don't know how hard they try? But there's nothing interesting for them here at all.

Their houses were behind the shops. We didn't go inside. They don't let us go there either. A yard without grasses in front of me used to be a school for them. I saw the teacher's room on the left. Right in front of me is the blackboad and the groud is the tables and the chairs for the students. But I didn't smell the smell of the teacher, the alphabet, the chalk, the pencil, the book at all. Maybe the next semester doesn't start yet. I hope. Hope they don't stop learning or teaching them.

Look at them closely I can see they are tired. We wanted to take pictures with them but we don't want to pay them to take it.

Karen's school
So we bought bracelets and knives. And we don't have to ask because they asked us first "pictures?" :) Yes, thank you!

I see they are beautiful!

My first time with Karens was at Ban Nam Peang Din, almost 20 years ago, I went there with my family. That village is plentiful. Full of karens, full of grasses, full of trees. They lived there - they worked there. But now everything is changed. Here, at Ban Nai Soi, was used to be a big village too but now it's like a fake village for tourist. It seems like they have to do it because it's an only way to earn money. I don't know - sooner or later they might escape from this place like the others do. Maybe they want to eat burkerking like the others. Maybe they want to go to 7-11 or maybe they want to walk around Siam Paragon. I don't know.

 

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Karens house
Karen's house
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Hehe .. look alike?
Hehe .. look alike?
Shes beautiful!
She's beautiful!
Me and the long neck karens :)
Me and the long neck karens :)
Teachers room
Teacher's room
Karens school
Karen's school
Ale
Ale
The village!
The village!
:)
:)
They live there.
They live there.
Sign and pay
Sign and pay
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Shes cute!
She's cute!
shopping
shopping
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
Houses
Houses
Ban Nai soi village
Ban Nai soi village
They are beautiful!
They are beautiful!
Trying to do the same :D
Trying to do the same :D
5 kgs I think!
5 kgs I think!
Its heavy!!!
It's heavy!!!
Hahaha :P
Hahaha :P
:)
:)
Ale likes her
Ale likes her
:D
:D
She likes Ale too :)
She likes Ale too :)
What?!
What?!
The way to the village
The way to the village
Mae Hong Son
photo by: Stevie_Wes