Children of Laos, Burma & Thailand

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Thailand and Laos (and Myanmar if I can manage it)

Hello, Sawatdee kaa and Sabai dee,

My next trip will be Thailand and Laos, and this is all about the before, the trip and the after - similar to my Malaysia/Cambodia blog. I am putting together from start to finish - tickets, do's and don'ts, tours, where to stay, places to see, things to do, as well as useful extras like transport, good places to eat, what to wear, climate, tourist traps, tricks and tips and whatever else I can think of that will be useful.

If you have any tips or advice, please, feel free to leave a comment and add your bit - whatever you think may be helpful or interesting.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

70. Golden Triangle Tour - Karen Long Neck Village

This is our last stop - the Karen Long Neck Village. I didn't think to ask what the name of the village was, nor did I take photos of the sculpture at the entrance. I didn't know we were visiting two villages. The first was an Akha village - they have wooden sculptures of male and female figures at the entrance to the village. Judging by the surroundings, it's my guess it was in some remote location of a national park.

Above: Akha Hilltribe
The Akha people wear bright costumes with lots of silver beading and dangly bits on their hats and are noted for their hand crafts.

Above: Running free
This little cherub was running around - in his hand is a feather duster.

Above: Innocence
He suddenly stopped and looked right at me - I was fortunate to capture this beautiful little face as he did. Such beautiful eyes and the innocent face pulled at my heart strings.

Above: Babies
Two littlies - their mother sits nearby.

Above: Akha village
For all the costumes are bright and cheerful, the village homes are in desperate need of repair.

Above: Bridge between the two villages
I was told to hurry up and cross the bridge. Over the bridge is the Karen village. The man standing on the other side of the bridge was considerably grumpy. One of those "in charge" maybe? He certainly wasn't very welcoming.

Above: Young girl
The ladies here make beautiful coloured scarves woven on a hand loom. I asked if I could take a photo, the girls said yes. She is ten and her name is Martine (spelling?) When I would take a photo, they always said, "You buy, you buy", but Martine did not so I bought a pretty green necklace with small black beads and silver coloured bits.

Above: Long Neck Karen Girl
A group of four men were very rude and each one sat down beside this lass to have his photo taken, then would hop up and the next one sat down. They did not ask her if they could take a photo and were bullying and hectoring in their attitude. I approached her and said hello and asked may I take your photo please? She nodded. The tour guide was walking past and said give me your camera, have your photo with her. I told him no, it's alright I would rather not. He insisted and took my camera. I felt uncomfortable and I thanked the young girl.

She was gracious and showed far better manners than the tour guide or the four men.

Above: Young Long Neck Karen Lady
I was struck by this lady's beauty and she kindly agreed to let me take her photo.

Above: Long Neck Karen Lady weaving
Further along, I saw an older lass sitting with a long narrow loom, sort of like an "A" frame and she was weaving the most beautiful piece of fabric - it was a scarf. The colours were so unusual I wanted to buy it. Asked if she had another one the same. She called and asked a woman on the other side. Anyway, she kind of ignored me. I asked did she have one like this, I liked it and wanted to buy one. She asked did I want to buy this one? I said yes. She cut the threads and it turned out there were two scarves on the frame.

She was finishing and threading through the threads when the tour guide told me it was time to leave and hurry up. I told him I had bought a scarf and she was finishing it. I asked could I take her photo to which she agreed. She is twenty and her name is Martaan.(Spelling?) I realised much later on the reason she did not stop weaving was because she probably had a quota to fill.

Above: The "Village"
A shot of the so called "village".

Above: Chickens
One sign of normality, about the only sign really - chickens running around doing what chickens do.

My opinion of Long Neck village visits
Although in a way, I am glad I went to the Long Neck village, while I don't actually regret doing so, I would not do so again. It is a sad place, there is no laughter, no sense of joy or happiness. I felt very uncomfortable, like I was looking at a zoo, that is it was like the ladies were on display. I don't think I'd go to another village again. It is very touristy and they expect you to spend money. Are they happy living like this? I find out later that these "villages" are owned and set up as a tourist attraction - the greedy blood suckers who own them, own the people too. They are not free to leave, they do not have their freedom and are not allowed to take the rings off their necks.

They wear brass rings around their necks which distorts the growth of their collarbones and make them look as if they have long necks - which they don't. These rows of brass rings don't actually stretch their necks - they squash the vertebrae and collar bones. A lady usually has about twenty or more rings around her neck. This neck ring adornment is started when the girls are only five or six years old.

Some of the younger ones don't wish to wear the golden coils of slavery around their necks, and want an education but are not allowed to do this because if they don't wear the neck coils, tourists won't want to visit them and it's all about money. Greed gone mad. Why doesn't the government step in and help? Huh, the government doesn't give a damn about them and sees them as a way of bringing in the tourist dollars. They too a a bunch of greedy blood sucking parasites just like the men who "own" the village and its people.

Two Faces
After crossing the bridge, one of the people in our group was in tears and very upset. The young woman said the tour guide yelled at her and was very mean. Evidently, she hadn't paid the same amount of money for the tour and she wasn't visiting the Karen Long Necks. (It was 500 baht to do this). The guide had a list with our names and next to each name was a list of things each had paid for.

She said she was told (by the tour guide) you haven't paid so you can't come and to stay here and wait for the group. She said she waited and it was starting to get dark and she didn't know where anybody was so she started to try to look for us. She had crossed over the bridge and she saw me walking and then the tour guide saw her and started yelling at her. She said he told her she hadn't paid and she was stealing - she wanted to see the village for free and he had a reputation to keep up. There was a lot more he had said in the vein.

The poor girl was terribly upset, and was shaking. I didn't hear this but I did see the young lass and the state she was in. I, and others were quite shocked that a tour guide could behave in such a manner. The phrase two-faced comes to mind.

Next: Loo Laughs and the Pink Bus

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is very important conclusion about using such villages as a means to attract tourists money. I think it is humiliating!

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