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  • Writer's pictureKirk

The Long Neck People of

This is just weird. I don’t understand it but then it doesn’t require my understanding nor my opinion. But, I can’t help but ask why in this day and age people want to stretch their necks out. It can’t be comfortable!

Nowadays this tribe of Thailand is nothing more than a tourist trap. A place to earn money in an area of the country where money is hard to come by. Sure , they are keeping their traditions, but personally, I wouldn’t mind ending this tradition if I was in the tribe. But it serves the purpose of bringing needed funds into the tribe

These are the people of Kayan long neck tribe which originated in neighboring Myanmar. They are currently located near the northern city of Chiang Mai.

This was on my first trip to Thailand before I grew such a disdain for these exploited touristy areas. Although this tribe had original origins, it exists today solely as a tourist attraction.

I won’t get into the ethics of visiting tourist areas like this to keep these fake traditions going. This is a personal decision people must make for themselves. But, for me, I was just left with a hollow feeling as if I was exploited myself being brought here by my cab driver to spend money.

Taxi drivers driving tourists around in Chiang Mai have set routes they take you on. They often get kick backs for bringing tourists there on top of the cab fare you pay.

There’s no doubt it was interesting to see these unique people. But they were on display like some kind of freak show you would see at a carnival.

The children even participate. By age 5 they begin to wear the brass coils and more are added over the years.eventually their necks are stretched up to 15 inches.

The original reason for the rings is unclear. Perhaps to make the women less desirable for slavery by neighboring tribes. Or perhaps to have a more attractive long slender neck?

If asked today the women just claim it is a sense of identity. A sense of belonging to a larger group. A feeling that is common to nearly all of mankind.

You can buy the silk goods and other items for sale there. It is the principle means of support of the local tribe today.

When I visited I was the only one there. Although I was never pressured to buy, I felt quite uncomfortable as the only customer among so many shops. I wondered how they made a living. But as I was leaving, two large tourists busses pulled up and I soon understood.

I resisted the urge to buy things I knew I would never use. But I did tip the girls for the photo opportunity they offered.

Also, I dropped off some money in the coils box on my way out. I figured since I didn’t buy anything, I at least should pay for the experience as there is no entry fee.

Like many things on my first trip to Thailand, I did many things I felt that were just cheap and manufactured. But that’s how you learn when you travel.

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Mike Wells
Mike Wells
Jun 17
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Weird tradition. It's too bad to exploit people just for tourist. The economy not being good makes you think of different ways to make money

Jun 17
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It’s a crazy world

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