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.