Karen Long Neck Tribe
About 40 minutes from the Golden Triangle is Thailand’s Northern hill tribe, Karen Long Neck Tribe. A “donation” of 430 Baht per person is collected to enter the village. The tribe solely depends on funding from tourism, so leave with some souvenirs.
Gold neck coils were first worn by unmarried women and children of Padaung tribes as protection against tiger attacks and bad luck after several deaths in the village. The gold coils were replaced with brass as the price of gold increased becoming too expensive for the tribe.
Girls receive their first coils at the age of 5. Every 3 years, 3 more coils are added until marriage or reaching the age of 25. The most recorded worn coils weigh 17.6 pounds and measure 25 rings high. The coils are never removed and are bolted together. Leg and wrist coils are given as gifts to girls and women to feel beautiful as other cultures gift jewelry.
Traveling Gingerbread Note: Visiting the village didn’t quite meet our expectations. Other than peering beyond the small collection of shops into what we assume to be the tribe’s living quarters, we didn’t learn much of their daily life. The women in the village were extremely quiet. In some shops the only sound was the pull of the wooden loom as thin threads were wove into fabric. Most women sat poised in the shadows of their small tent smiling at visitors entering their colorful room of souvenirs. There were very few other tourists and the village felt a bit eerie.