(Day 272 to 274)
19.08.2010 - 22.08.2010 37 °C
The laid-back, quirky town of Pai, situated on the Pai River, was a great place to relax for a bit; the town is packed with tour operators and small coffee shops with a large expat community and plenty of hippies!
We discovered the pretty surrounding scenery amongst the lush green hills the next day by bike, drove to a couple of waterfalls and just got lost discovering..
On our last day we hired a car to tackle the windy roads which would take us to the unusual Hill tribe village, near Mae Hong Son, where live the Paduang Karen Long Neck tribe. Tradition has the women wearing brass rings on their necks from the tender age of 7, adding a ring or two every year until the age of 16. This is to elongate their necks which they think of as adding a swan-like beauty. Removing the rings would cause the collapse of the neck and suffocation. The Ndebele tribes in South Africa used to wear copper rings around their necks too so this was interesting to see.
Sadly we only found out afterwards that this village is merely a setup for tourists and although the tradition is real, these women are actually Burmese refugees and are paid to live there. They cannot work the land as is customary for their tribe (as they are not legal citizens in Thailand) but this way they avoid the war in Burma and are paid to be on display.. Had we known this we'd have not gone..
The next morning we had a punishing 04h30 wake up call, to catch our transfer to Chiang Rai. Believe it or not, this is the only bus / transfer that exists!!!