Things To Do (or Avoid) in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Long Neck Girls

“For the Padaung Karen women, the rings around their neck may be seen as cultural shackles, but they are faced with a brutal choice:  return to Burma and risk death or remain a stateless sideshow attraction in Thailand.”

That about sums it up in a 2007 article written for the Asia Sentinel by Antonio Graceffo.

If you’re curious about the plight of the Long Neck Karen women I’d recommend reading some addition legitimate work (try to stay away from the tourist Blogs), or watch the film documentary Silent Hopes.

It seems that many legitimate trekking outfits in the North of Thailand refuse to participate in what appears to look like a human zoo, and for all intent and purposes really is. This is quite striking though, and when you see it you realize that some things can and do look beautiful in there own small ways. I would guess that this girl is about 12 from counting the number of rings around her neck – one presumably for every year after the age of six years old.

For me as always I am neutral about the whole thing. I’m American, if my own country does things I don’t like, sure I’m the first one to speak up, but I’m a guest here, and I’ve learned long ago that if you’re a guest in a foreign country you just appear ‘disingenuous” if you claim some sort of moral outrage then slink back to your fancy hotel room, cold beer, soft bed, and eventually your own country, with a suitcase loaded with trinkets…

Any comments, Red?

None.

Why?

I think the girl in the photograph looks lovely, and sad in a way. I didn’t ask her to pose this way; she just did it. In many ways the world is a sad, ugly, beautiful, amazing, wondrous, and a brutal place. It’s everything rolled up into one gigantic ball, and it goes on with or without me.

Plus, I would hate to complain, and become an old bore, the one that everyone avoids at cocktail parties..

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