Chiang Mai - Karen Long Neck Hilltribe


After the day we had before I didn't think it would be possible to top it. No way. It was just too good. But I also knew that by the end of the day I would be riding an elephant. AN ELEPHANT! It has always been a dream of mine to ride one, so the excitement of that had my adrenaline pumping pretty early that morning. Since being in Thailand, Trevor and I had planned everything we had done on our own, but for the elephants we had booked the day through Blue Elephant and had picked a package for the day that included a bunch of different things. 

Our tour guide picked us up early that morning. Our first stop for the day was at a market outside of town. You could instantly tell that it was different then some of the other markets we had seen in the big cities. You could tell it was where the locals went. Mr. Nong, our tour guide, walked us through the aisles. Aisles of color, variety, and just plain beauty. That may read like a dramatic way to describe a local fresh market, but it isn't. Everything about this place was beautiful. The exotic foods, the people and their interactions with each other. The whole atmosphere was just, beautiful. We picked out fruits and treats for the day as well as some bananas for the elephants. I loved watching Mr. Nong talk to his friends, and he would take the time to tell us about the food and who he was talking to. Speaking of our tour guide, Mr. Nong was a smart good looking young man, around the same age as Trevor and I. It was fun to spend time with someone our age from Thailand, and really learn about his life. He was funny and never ceased to amaze me with all the information he knew about Thailand. As a history major I was soaking up everything and loving every second of it. He proceeded to tell us facts and teach us phrases in Thai through out the whole day. He really was amazing!

POSTS ON THAILAND
Bangkok Koh Samui
Thailand Extras
Before we even got in the car the guide wanted us to try the most popular fruit in Thailand. It is refereed to as the King of Thai fruit, and it called Durian. Apparently most people not from Thailand don't like it at all. Trevor and I tried it without hesitation and thought it was alright. It definitely wasn't bad, which is what our guide claimed every person he has ever had try it says. In fact, usually people are so turned off from the smell they won't even try it. I honestly didn't think it smelled like anything. It kind of tasted like an avocado and was very creamy. Apparently it is a required taste, and our guide was impressed we ate it and thought it was fine.

After the market we proceeded to drive out further into the countryside. Once we really got out of the city we arrived at an Orchid Farm. We had the opportunity to learn all about Orchid and the science behind how they mate the flowers to create different species and colors. Did you know Thailand is one of the main suppliers of Orchids in the world? It really was fascinating to learn all about the process from start to finish. Did you know that Orchids are not grown in the ground, but up in the air hanging? We got to take a walk around the farm and while I have always thought Orchids were beautiful flowers, they were just absolutely stunning hanging in rows and rows like that. There were butterflies everywhere and just so much gorgeous vegetation out in the countryside.
Um those are live frogs they were selling in the Market... I don't think they were for people to have as pets...
One of the prettiest bathrooms I have ever been in.
You will see these little shrines all over Thailand in front of houses and businesses. This was one was outside the Orchid farm and was one of my favorites from all that I saw on the trip. 
After the Orchid farm we got back in the car and made our way deeper into the countryside. Our tour guide pulled over to what seemed like the middle of the road. However with just a few steps I realized I was entering a pathway to a large village that you could see in the distance. There was lush plants everywhere, tall trees, and a stunning limestone waterfall. I couldn't help but feel like a dream of mine was becoming a reality in that moment. I have always been a lover of history and cultures, which is why I majored in history in college. I remember when I was a young girl watching a National Geographic special on the Long Neck tribes. I was in such awe by the rings they would place on their necks. I couldn't grasp how someone could be so different from me, and I realized there was so much more to the world that I didn't know or relate to. That episode stuck with me so much so that while planning our trip to Thailand I got emotional when I realized we could go and visit these people.
We saw children coming towards us, and once they met up with us they all lined up. The tour guides always bring treats for the children and we handed them out one by one. There were kids everyone, and our tour guide told us that there normally isn't this many children but school had been canceled that day. How lucky were we? I loved seeing all the kids and having them around! They were so happy and playful. The tour guide proceeded to walk us around the village and introduce us to all the different women. He took the time to explain the heritage behind each culture that was represented in the village. There were two tries, the Longneck Karen Tribe was the largest and there were a few from the Big Ears Kayor hill tribe. All of these people are in Thailand as refugees from their homelands. Our tour guide explained to us the history of the brass rings the women wear, and we were even allowed to hold one. Let me tell you... that thing was HEAVY! I couldn't fathom wearing that all the time. Despite the appearance of a longer neck, the neck is not stretched by the rings. Rather, they push down on the muscles around the collarbone giving the impression of a longer neck. If anything the shoulders are pushed down, not their necks getting longer. The women believe that wearing these make them more beautiful, and it will help them attract a husband. The women were so kind and I loved getting to meet them and talk with them. They don't speak English, or Thai, but our tour guide seemed to know enough of their language and we could converse through him. Trevor saw a woman playing what he could tell was a homemade guitar. He ended up talking to her about it, how she made it, and they played together taking turns on the instrument. It was a pretty cool experience. Two music lovers from total opposite walks of life, connecting over music. They all seemed so happy and it was just a testament to the idea that you don't need to have a lot of "things" to be happy. They live in bamboo houses built on stilts, don't own much, and have such a strong community.
This woman was pregnant. Can you imagine being pregnant carrying all that weight on your shoulders?

It was one of the coolest experiences and was such a great afternoon. I was sad with how quickly it was over. I bought a few bracelets made by the women and we were on our way to the next part of the adventure.

16 comments

  1. Ahhhh I NEED TO GET TO THAILAND NOW. Love these posts. Giving me some major wanderlust though!

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  2. Incredible! I can't believe that's a bathroom haha. So beautiful!

    Gorgeous photos. You captured each moment perfectly.

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  3. Absolutely incredible pictures and great descriptions of your experiences. Awesome coverage. My best wishes to Trevor and Alycia.

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  4. Really interesting. I can't even wear scarves sometimes because they feel too restrictive, I can't imagine wearing those heavy things all the time!

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  5. Came and read this bloody long post, like the photos and now I am leaving

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  6. What an adventure! The trip looks amazing!

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  7. What a great trip!! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. What a great day that must have been. And that was only half of it. Can't wait for the elephants.

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  9. Love, Love, LOVE this...how inspiring and wonderful! Love all the colors, too. <3

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