Long necks, Tigers and the old town

Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
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Trip End Mar 11, 2011


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Friday, January 21, 2011

The next day we planned to go for a half day trip to the handy crafts village and the long neck tribes. At breakfast we went over the further planning of the coming days with the hotel staff. They were great in suggesting things to do and taking all planning out of our hands. The staff literally took care of everything. What a delight to stay here. Breakfast was served a la carte, and you can basically ask for whatever you want. Sometimes the language barrier creates some confusion and things end up to be different than you would expect. For example, grapefruit juice turned out to be grape juice and an egg never comes alone, no matter how many times you tell that one is enough. But it does not matter, people are friendly and really try their best.


After a relaxed morning feast we head out with our driver to the long neck village. On the way we stop at a silver manufacturing shop, a silk manufacturing shop and the handicrafts village. The silver shop had nothing to our likings, so we did not spend a lot of time there. At the silk factory we were shown how they make silk, from worm till woven product. Quite interesting to see. And in the store Linda actually found a very nice dress and of course a silk scarf. Mission accomplished.

At the handicraft village we had our camera bag painted with two cute elephants. There was no price to the work, you could pay whatever you thought it was worth to you and so we did. The girl was very happy with our contribution, and later I learned that we payed about five times as much as what the average visitor would pay. But then again, you pay what you think it is worth, and so we did.






Our last stop for the day was the tribe village of the long neck people. Well it is actually a collection of tribes living in this touristic village. There are about 5 tribes, all showing their specific traditional wear and living their lives for the tourists to record. There is a steep entrance fee to the village, but this money is used to preserve the way of life of the ancient tribes. The people move to the village by choice as life out in the rural forest might be more difficult than here in the tourist town. The long neck tribe is originally from Burma (Myanmar). But the 'situation' over there encouraged a group of people to move to the more friendly Thailand. There are now about thirty people living in the village. They learn a bit of English and Chinese to communicate with the tourists. We talk a bit with one of the girls and learn about the traditional rings around the neck. Incredible how they never take these off and have them replaced every two or three years. The girl is about seven months pregnant, so soon another long neck girl will be added to the tribe. And if it is a girl, she will also be sitting in the village, weaving scarfs and showing the tourists what the long neck tribe people in Burma look like. I have trouble determining if I find this sad or not.


After visiting the tribes we go to another controversial site in Chiang Mai, the Tiger Kingdom. We have read a lot about the attraction and decided to see for ourselves what it is all about. At Tiger Kingdom they have a collection of tigers here which are bread in captivity. Therefore these tigers will never be able to return to the wild, so it is in no case a tiger conservation project. At tiger kingdom you can take photos with the tigers and even play with them in the cages. And here is where the problem lies. How can you ever let people 'play' with full grown tiger? It is still a wild animal, and when it wishes to do so, it can do serious damage in the flick of his claw. Many people think the tigers are drugged to remain calm and 'safe'. And after visiting the Tiger Kingdom I share this opinion. In particular the bigger cats, they have the same look in their eyes as people that have been hanging out in an Amsterdam coffee shop a tad too long. We opted for a photo session with the small new born tigers. They are harmless in size and look like big pussy cats. Surprisingly the kittens are still playful and happy after shooting photo sessions with tourists day in and day out. And even though we got some nice pictures with the kittens and are lucky to have seen (and touched) these magnificent animals in real life, the whole tiger kingdom experience borders to animal abuse and is a highly doubtful attraction.


After our day of sightseeing we had our driver drop us off in the old town of Chiang Mai. We were just in time for the sunset and managed to visit one or two temples. We worked up quite an appetite, so we found ourselves a nice noodle shop for a late afternoon snack. On the street next to the shop there was a guy roasting very appetizing satays. We could not resist and ordered a couple. We could have them at our table at the restaurant, awesome. The sauce that was packed with the delightful meat sticks was furiously hot, as satay sauce should be.

After our snack we headed for a walk along the old town of Chiang Mai. On our way we found the University of Buddhism, build up out of a couple of temples around the ancient Wat Chedi Luang temple. This old temple once housed the emerald Buddha. The same one we saw a few days ago in Bangkok. There were tons of VIP buses bringing students to the temple and school complex. As we walked further we found a market along the city wall side. From here we took a tuk tuk to the night market a couple of kilometers further in a newer part of town. The night market is another wild collection of handcrafts and souvenirs.

We walked around a bit and found ourselves a place for dinner. It was a good thing we had a snack earlier, as the servings at this restaurant were on the small side. It was a long day, with a lot of impressions and experiences. Of which some I tried to capture in this post. Tomorrow we head out for an even longer day. We will head out to Chiang Rai and Myanmar.



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