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Myanmar border: Ka'ren people

THAILAND | Sunday, 13 November 2005 | Views [1235] | Comments [2]

You find us safe and well today..........

Yesterday Kari and I had a relaxing day zooming around town on a moped. Here in CM, the moped rules, with everyone from monks to teenage boys driving them, their girlfriends clutching onto them on the passenger seat. Kari and I decided to make the 5KM drive up the mountain to the most sacred temple called Dui Sothep. It was a bit of a strain on the 100cc engine to get it up there, but it was worth it. The views were spectacular and it was interesting to see the monks blessing people, and also the architecture of the temple, which we have found has its roots in Myanmar, not Thailand. We decided call it a night quite early because the following day we would take a day trip to the Thai / Myanmar border, and to visit the Ka'ren tribe, whose women go through the lifelong process of lengthening their necks with copper springs in the belief that the lenghtening of the neck is beautiful.

So today, we were up bright and early at 6am and on the road for the 400KM (!) round trip. We were in a group of eight, two Swedes, two Dutch, two Danes and us from the UK. We got along well and there were high spirits in the car. The scenery was breathtaking and it was really worth putting up with the heat in order to see it.

We first stopped at a butterfly garden and orchid farm to see some species other than the Red Admiral. From there, it to something a little different, and to the Elephant dung (no shit!)  products centre. The fibres that the animals produce from the bamboo and bananas that they eat is perfect (according to the centre) for making papers and cardboards. We were allowed to get stuck in to the fibres once it had been processed, and it seemed just like bark to me. I think the Thai governement are pinning their hopes on this taking off to a certain extent, because they really want to keep a curb on logging, and they have a few elephants here and there, in zoos and what not........After that it was to a cave complex where some Thai monks developed a temple away from the eyes of the invading Burmese - again, I can't wait to show the pictures.

The highlight though was definitely meeting the Ka'ren "Longneck' tribe. We drove into the mountains to the border where their settlement was and wandered around their village, looking at some of their things that they had for sale. The women wear a 6kg copper spring in order to lengthen their necks, with an extra level being put on every year for 35 years. They start the process at 5 years old! Our guide told us that they were quite a shy lot, and not used to foriegners, but one lady had obviously been practising her English, because she asked me where I was from. I asked her the same question, to which she replied she was from Myanmar, having been driven to the camp when she was five. The trip took five days. I asked her how she was so good at English, and she said that she picked pieces of it up from foriegners that visited. I asked her questions such as whether she liked her neck wear. "Sometimes yes, sometimes no", she replied. It was really facinating to see how she moved with the neck wear. Our guide told us that if she moved suddenly, she would injure herself quite badly. When she moved her head, she had to move it from her shoulders. It was also a little sad to see pre-teenage girls playing games in the yard with this brace on their necks, not being able to play properly or having full mobility..........

Times running out, more soon........

Tags: Adventures



It is getting cold in Korea. How's the weather? i really suprised that story of "Longneck" tribe. Because I thought "Longneck' tribe is 's story.I can't belive that tribe still do that.Now is 21C!! Do you think longneck girls beautiful? I'm sad that story too.A little child can't realize why they do that.They accept their fate. But it is really good experience for you. The world is too large and filled with mysteris. Enjoy your trip!!

  jane Nov 14, 2005 11:32 PM


Hi Jane, Yes, it is the 21st Century, but nothing much has changed in that part of the world for quite some time. Whereas in the West, a tan is considered beautiful, and for Korea, the opposite and white skin, there, in that particular tribe, long necks are considered very attractive! (If a little extreme........).

  dan_in_japan Nov 15, 2005 7:01 PM

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