BootsnAll Travel Network

March 29th – Karen In Thailand


Originally uploaded by roupiesontour

Tribal day today and a chance to see the much photographed Long Neck Karen tribe. There are actually many different types of Karen – white, red, black, big ear, big belt and long neck. Why Karen – who knows, maybe they heard “Top Of The World” by The Carpenters and thought t was quite apt. The day started with an American couple who decided that a minibus full of misfits was not for them and demanded to be driven back to their hotel. I really need to do something about my hair – I fear it is starting to make people scared. Other members of the group today included a girl from Denmark who had come to Thailand to play golf and a Birmingham couple of girls who had spent a year and a half travelling around – one set of parents had met them in Thailand and were also on the trip. What is it about Brits on holiday – the Danish girl was lovely and we spent ages talking but the Brits just ignored us and treated the guide with almost contempt. It was the same guide we had yesterday, named “Boy” (yes his real name) he was really nice and full of interesting info, just not good enough for the Brummies. How the girls managed to travel around the world with this attitude I have no idea!

Anyway back to the trip – short stop at a butterfly and orchid farm – not very interesting but did get a few pointers about growing orchids – charcoal is the thing apparently. Another drive and a stop at a cave system – complete with Buddhas and Japanese stonework – they ised the caves during WW2. It just shows how blasé us 3 have got – my sister was talking loads of photos and none of us did at all as the caves in NZ were more fabulous. I find this very hard and reminded myself to make a more conscious effort to get excited about the surroundings.

The hilltribe “village” was more like 2 lines of stalls with the villagers selling scarves, figurines and jewellery. 3 villages – Longneck Karen, Big Ears Karen and the Akai tribes live next to each other – it was hard to tell the difference in the villages boundaries. The Longnecks were amazing. As touristy as it was I was amazed that one of the women spoke English. I spent a while talking to her as discovered she was 40 with 2 kids. The brass coils they wear around their necks must weigh 5 or 6 kilos. A long piece of brass is wrapped around their neck every year after the previous one is taken off. The first coil is put on around the year of 6 or 7 and a longer one put on every year. The shoulders are pushed down and the neck lengthened as much as possible. The coils are also worn on the legs, just below the knee. It is a strange sight and you have to respect the elegance of these women. Of course the men do not have to go through the same thing – this just ensures that the women stay in the tribe. Sleeping and walking are done very carefully.

The villages have electricity but no schools – we saw children dressed up for us tourists, complete with full face make up and they certainly knew how to pose for the cameras. How did I feel walking around? Amazed as they were the friendliest people you can imagine, very demure and elegant and all smiles. I also notice bags full of beer cans so might have contributed to the smiles. No men were in sight – the impression given that they were working in the fields which just did not ring true – there were enough kids around to suggest that they at least made fleeting visits back here. I of course bought a scarf from the lady I talked to and every time I put it on I will always be reminded of her, her smile and how much we take for granted at home. God I am so lucky.

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