Chiangmai Hill Tribes

On Saturday 10th April me and Paul set of with Suriya for our first tour of Chiang Mai. He has known my Dad for over 18 years, as he was the tour guide for the tours my Dad organised for his previous business. My Dad organised tours from England, and took groups of people around the world. What a great job!

Suriya took us to the Lisu Tribe and Elephant Training Centre Chiang Dao. My Dad has visited this tribe many times and knows the people there very well, as this was the tribe he visited 18 years ago, when he first came to Chiang Mai. The people in the village were very excited to meet me, and wanted to give me gifts to welcome me. It was wonderful meeting with people that my Dad knew, and seeing how excited they were to meet me. My Dad had known some of these people when they were just young, and now they are grown with children.

Some of my Dad's friends from the Lisu Tribe

Some of my Dad's friends from the Lisu Tribe

After talking with them we went to look around. There is an Elephant training centre here, and you can go Elephant Riding and Bamboo Rafting on the river. This costs about 1200 Baht for both. We didn’t do this today, as we planned to come back next week to do so.

Suriya then took us to the Karen Long Neck Hill Tribe, just outside of Chiang Mai. Here you can see several tribes in one. The most famous being the Karen Long Tribe. This will cost you 500 Baht per person to get in. Luckily for us we were with Suriya, and he managed to get us in for 200 Baht only.

The Long Neck women famously wear brass rings around their necks. This distorts the growth of their collarbones and makes them look as if they have long necks – which they don’t. This row of brass rings do not actually stretch their necks but in fact squash the vertebrae and collar bones. A woman generally has about twenty or more rings around her neck, and starts to wear them from around the age of 5 years old. They get a new ring every birthday. They also wear rings around their upper legs, to hold their socks up, over their knees, whilst they are working in the fields.

Long Neck Tribe

Long Neck Tribe

This is a great place to visit as you get to see a lot of the tribes in one. There is the Famous Karen long neck tribe, the Aka tribe, big ear tribe and a few others which I forget. The only downer is that it is full of tourists, as it was built especially for tourism. Suriya was explaining that the long neck tribe wouldn’t be in Thailand if it wasn’t for this place being created. They have been brought over from Burma, and through the money they make, from tourism, they are able to send money back to Burma, to their families. So at least it is helping their families. It is just a shame to hear that they have to be separate from their families.

We both really enjoyed being at this Village. We got to watch the different tribes make things and play musical instruments. I had a go playing a couple of the instruments. They were mostly different variations of a guitar. I also tried the rings on my neck, they were extremely heavy! How they wear them every day, I don’t know. I guess they must get used to them.

We will write more about the rest of our day, visiting various animal parks.

Ruth and Paul

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