A different way of life - Long Neck Karen
Mae Hong Son Travel Blog› entry 13 of 19 › view all entries
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.
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".
:) 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.