Did we just visit a people zoo?

There are several hill tribes in Thailand. One tribe, the Kayans, are known as the Long Neck Tribe because of the heavy brass coils worn on the necks of the women. It isn’t clear why the neck coils are worn, but some believe they were intended to guard against tiger attacks.

The Kayan in Thailand escaped from the turmoil in Burma during junta rule but are considered economic refugees in Thailand. They have a replica village to live in, but are not allowed to settle outside the village. Tourists (we two, for example) pay a fee to visit the village. The tour takes one past dozens of stalls, each selling nearly identical goods.

The Kayan are an attractive and charming people. Here is a little girl who sold us a scarf for 300 baht ( under $10) that her mother made. We actually bought several things we didn’t need from various stalls just to interact with the children and their mothers. We let the little girl in the picture use our camera and she took some pretty good photos.

We enjoyed our visit but were bothered by seeing nearby tiger, snake, crocodile, and insect zoos. The tiger zoo was only a couple hundred yards away, so the neck rings might actually be useful.

5 thoughts on “Did we just visit a people zoo?”

  1. Actually we saw the Kayan girls taking scooters out to town. Some of them now work outside of the “show” village, which actually included other tribes as well if we recall accurately.

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    1. The other hill tribes are on the road just before entering the village but from a tourist point of view that is a technical distinction.

      Our guide told us that the other tribes live in the hills and are afraid no one will visit them so they set up shop just outside the show village.

      I am glad to hear that the Kayan are allowed out. 😀 They are lovely people.

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      1. Yeah, we saw this young lady come in on a scooter, walked behind somewhere and put on the neckrings…on the other hand we “spoke” with an old Kayen lady who was handmaking fabric and bought some really nice work from her. This is the best way to put the economic benefits in their hands because we’re not sure where the entrance fees go to.

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