Long necks were considered to be a thing of beauty in traditional Karen culture. The girls started wearing brass rings on their necks at a very early age. It has now been shown that the rings do not lengthen the neck but in fact lower the shoulders. It is said that the original purpose of the rings was to protect the women from tiger attacks but this is not true. The practice was becoming less traditional but the Kayan realized that tourists would pay to photograph the women. The Kayan women are very kind and try to be patient about all the picture taking. The elderly lady in the picture even had rings on her calves. In March 2001 at 73, she was the oldest woman in the village of Huay Pu Keng.
As you climb up the hill at Huay Pu Keng, almost every house has handicrafts for sale. Some were quite good and reasonably priced. This young girl was minding the family table in front of the house. However, you could hear that she was getting tips from inside the house about how much to charge. It was March 2001 when I was there. She was tiny then. By now, I am sure she is a strikingly beautiful young woman.
The Kayan are a subgroup of the Red Karen (Karenni) people, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority of Myanmar (Burma). Padaung (Yan Pa Doung) is a Shan term for the Kayan Lahwi (the group whose women wear the brass neck coils). A 2004 estimate put the Kayan population at approximately 130,000 in Myanmar. About 600 Kayan reside in the three villages open to tourists in Thailand's Mae Hong Son Province, and in the Ban Mai Nai Soi refugee camp. They refer to themselves as Kayan and object to being called Padaung (or "Padung" like in Frommer's Thailand 4th edition, 2000), which means "copper neck."
In Mae Hong Son you can get a tour to Huay Pu Keng, which is next to Ban Nam Pieng Din (called "Nam Plong Dim" in Frommer's Thailand 4th edition, 2000). A few of the approximately 100 long-neck Kayan women in Thailand live there (note that this may not be by their choice). I did not know before I visited, but there is much controversy about visiting these villages. Some say you should visit because the village depends economically on the income generated by tourists (the 250 baht fee includes letting you take photographs), but others say that you should not visit since the girls and women have no choice about what they do. A Thai middleman no doubt gets most of the tour fees, so buying things in the village may be a better option.
To get to Huay Pu Keng, you take a long-tail boat from Mae Hong Son down the Pai River. In March 2001, it cost 500 baht for the boat and 250 baht fee for a foreigner. We went a little later in the morning and passed all the boats coming back with the early morning visitors. By the time we got to the village, there were maybe 6-7 other tourists there. At that time, there were many forest fires during the dry season and that was why the air was smoky.
Definately hire a car and do the loop starting in Chiangmai.National has a great deal of 500 baht per day if you hire for 30 days. I drove first to Sukhothai (though stopping and spending a night in Lamphun)is also good as understand many waterfalls there.
After Sukhothai drive to Maesot then to Umphang to see the gorgeous Thilasu waterfalls after that Soppang then Mae Hong Son a dont miss town in the mists.From Mae Hong Son we drove back straight to Chiangmai without stopping at ugly Pai. Stop at the Fish park on the way back to Chiangmai.
I did this last year if you want to know more you can email me at email@example.com
If you see these plants in Europe they are mostly in Florist shops or in private homes, but then looked after as if they were children ... delicate things that could´t survive of their own (wich probably is right around my home).
Here in Thailand they seem to be everywhere.... and they also seem not to need much for growing.
In this Orchid Farm there were hundreds of them hanging in small baskets with nothing in it in thin air.
Air, water and sun (not too much) seems to be all what they need.
There are also so many species with so many colors, sizes and forms...
Oh and you have the possibility to try to grow them at home, too. They offer small Orchid plants in bottles to take home - together with a manual of some sort.
Well it sure is something for those with a green thumb.
Hi, I don't know which elephant sanctuary you're referring to, but the one in Lampang, the Elephant Conservation Center does have a good reputation. I did visit an elephant camp less than an hour away from Chiang Mai called Mae Sa Elephant Camp and they had something like 25 elephants at their camp. Their elephants seemed in good shape and did't look maltreated.
I think you can just show up at the Arcade Bus Station for the VIP bus to Chiang Rai since they do have several departures per day. I guess you're thinking of the same website to book the bus which is in Thai.
Highly recommend a visit to Mae Fah Luang/Doi Tung. There are some interesting hilltribes up on the way too and you're quite close to the Burmese border. We rented a motorbike in Chiang Rai for the trip but be careful going up and down since some sections are quite steep.
You can cross over into Burma from Mae Sai but quite honestly, Tachilek is mainly a border town and isn't that interesting unless you want to do shopping in which case, you might as well do it at the Chiang Rai night market or back in Chiang Mai.
And yes, Wat Rong Khun or the 'White Temple' is well worth a visit. very stunning. You can take a shared songthaew from near the Chiang Rai Market to Wat Rong Khun and then flag down the same colored songthaew to get back to Chiang Rai if you don't want to hire private transport.
There'a also a hilltribes museum and an opium museum in Chiang Rai.
As for food the Chiang Rai and Mai (Sunday) night markets are great places to have food. Chiang Rai's Night Market is next to the old bus station and there are shops like in C. Mai for shopping, too. Also, in the evening around 5pm, many C. Rai locals gather at their market to buy food and you can also get very good and inexpensive meals there too like in most Thai cities/towns.
For the C. Mai Sunday night market, there are multiple places that offer good Thai food but several of the temples/wats along Ratchadamon also host Thai food courts with the usual, such as BBQ chicken, grilled whole fish, papaya salad, khao neaw, mango with sticky rice, etc.
Have a great time.
PS--I also recommend hiring a motorbike in Chiang Rai and heading northwest out of the town following the road that parallels the Mae Kok river. There are interesting villages, (one with an elephant camp), caves, and waterfalls along the route.
Selamat and travel safe.
There are various hill-tribe villages in the area of Northern Thailand close to Chiang Rai. I visited a couple with a tour guide as part of my excursion. It was fascinating to wander around them & get a glimpse of the tribes way of life.
I always feel a bit uneasy about exploring peoples homes at close up. I didn't take any photos of anybodys personal belongs. Some of the villagers came out to see us & offer their locally made handicrafts for sale.
There are many boat trips available at Sop Ruak. The one I went on took me upriver for a close up view of the casino hotel in Myanmar. The boat then turned round & headed back downriver for a stop off at a Lao village on the large river island of Don Sao (see travelogue).
After a short stop there the boat crossed the river back to Thailand. It was such a great experience to be on the Mekong river in a small boat getting close up views of the riverside scenery of three countries.
This museum in Sop Ruak displays the history of the opium trade in the Golden Triangle. The exhibits include opium weights, pipes & scales. The museum also has displays on other aspects of Northern Thailand, such as the long neck Karen.
Adjacent to the museum is a gift shop selling souvenirs of the Golden Triangle area.
The museum is open from 7am to 7pm. The adult entry fee is 50 baht.
For those who wish to look for a time to discover themselves, I would suggest Vipassana Meditation. However, you must also follow the rules of the temple to monastry and take the 8 precepts.
You can opt for some days or depending on how long you could stay.
If you like to stay longer and develop more into a novice, You should look for monastry.
and apply to the abbot.
This parade happens each February and is worth seeing- lots of beautifully decorated floats in a parade with thousands of flowers and also a chance to see the most lovely girls of Thailand who wave gracefully to the crowd from their flower-bedecked thrones.
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is on a mountain near Chiang Mai. It was built in 1557. Besides being a beautiful temple, the altitude (3250 feet) also makes it cooler. It's easier to ride the gondola up (20 baht) and then walk down the 290-step naga staircase when you leave. A naga is a serpent with a dragon's head. You should not wear shorts. There are expansive views of the Chiang Mai from the Wat. You may also ring the bells next to the temple.
Thailand has a very special King. He is now the longest reigning monarch in the world and is beloved by his people. He was not supposed to be King but his older brother was killed in an accident. He was trained as an engineer and has inventions. One of the people who helped make him special was his mother, Her Royal Highness Somdej Phra Sri Nakarindra Boromarajjonnani, Mae Fah Luang. He certainly inherited her practicality and modesty.
One of her former summer residences (she passed away a few years ago) is the Doi Tung Palace, located north of Chiang Rai near Mae Sai on the Doi Tung limestone outcrop (1800 m or 5900 ft). Her home there is said to have been constructed from wood from shipping pallets. Hard to tell if that is true. It is such a beautiful place. The residence is complemented by the spectacular Mae Fah Luang botanical garden, which was started in 1992. The garden elevation is 1509 meters. In the picture you can see the residence overlooking the garden.
Doi Inthanon is Thailand's tallest mountain (2565 meters or ~8416 ft). It is located about 35 miles south of Chiang Mai. It was quite cool at the top when I was there; I needed a jacket. A little way down the mountain are two large chedi's, one for the King and one for the Queen, with a nice garden below them. They are worth a visit but you must be able to climb stairs. At the lower levels in the park there are nice waterfalls. Vachiratharn Waterfall is not the biggest but you can see how small I look in the picture. Also, don't forget it was the dry season and the water flow was low. It costs 200 baht for a foreigner to enter the park.
Parts of the Old City wall and moat still exist. The picture shows a piece of the ancient moat that once surrounded the old part of the city. Believe me the picture is deceptive, the immediate surroundings are a busy inner city area.
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