The Travellist's journal

By TheTravellist

Mae Hong Son Loop (again) Day 5

During my first time in this region I had read up on the so-called "Longneck Villages" of the Karen/Kayan people (refugees originally from Myanmar, known for the neck rings worn by the women). From everything that I read, I decided that I didn't want to visit as I'd heard reports of it being like a "human zoo" and that the people were exploited for money. However, one of the sources, Travelfish (a great website resource for Southeast Asia) says that recent changes to many of the villages has changed its opinion and now believes them to be responsible and the villagers are no longer exploited.

Tanja and I were still hesitant and weren't sure if we wanted to see such a place but we were interested in finding out more and at least giving it a chance. So we drove to one we found online, through tiny roads and forests. The village was inside a larger Thai village and the entrance was a dark alleyway guarded by a shop-keeper selling tickets to get in. Something didn't feel right and we weren't even allowed to have a quick look before committing to paying the entrance fee. After talking it through, neither of us felt comfortable doing it, so we had an ice cream and explored the local areas by bike instead.

Back in Mae Hong Son, we went to the top of the hill for a hazy view of the town. We found a local tour company by the lake and asked them about the longneck villages for their opinion on the treatment and for advice on which ones are best from an ethical point of view. The guide was very helpful and we decided we would try again at another village the next day. We returned to the night market for dinner and had the Thai rice salad again, along with some other snacks.

Sign in or get an account to comment.