Long Neck Karen


The view made our balcony the place to enjoy a few minutes prior to heading to see one of the tribal villages of NW Thailand.  Larry programmed his GPS, a daily task for we Discover Our Earth Expedition participants.

So we would not have to lug our heavy riding gear, we took a mini bus to the Long Neck Karen village.  Elephants were bathing along the way so we stopped for pictures.  The several water crossings en route were a lot less stressful in the bus than they would have been with our bikes.

The Long Neck Karen tribe is known for the practice of installing brass rings around some females’ necks. Although it gives the illusion of a longer, and supposedly more beautiful neck, the heavy rings actually compress the girl’s collar bones and upper ribs.  Nothing actually happens to the length of the neck.  Starting at age 5, several rings are added every few years until a young woman can have around 20 of them.  Once on, they stay there for life.  This causes the neck muscles to lose strength which is difficult to regain if rings are removed.  “Big Ears” are also practiced by some of the tribal women.  Many years of stretching made this woman’s ear holes as big as they now are.  These practices seem to be diminishing in popularity and are now mainly a tourist draw. It worked, we came.

Our 2nd stop was high on a hill at a temple overlooking the valley.  Here there are seven Buddhas.
I liked Tuesday’s since it was reclining.  After a morning of touring, I could go for some reclining, like these kitty cats resting in the sun.

No time for napping today, we had riding to do.  The mountain views were numerous and the hillsides were all covered in foliage.  So was the roof of our coffee break location called “Coffee In Love.”

The piece of cake we shared at Coffee In Love did not nourish us for the day so we stopped to peruse our food choices.  Larry looked a bit perplexed as he deliberated over yet another meal where we had no idea what all we were eating.  BBQ pigs feet were my choice.  I thought that they would put the whole foot on the plate.  Instead, meat was removed “from the hoof” and looked like a normal pork dinner.

A short ride up a hill took us to this colorful temple.


Martin Sally, a Canadian who just joined the expedition for Section 5, Bangkok to Mieming, Austria, is an inspiration for us all.  Martin just got back into motorcycling two years ago after a 35-year break.  Many decades ago, he and his girlfriend, later wife, traveled extensively in Asia including India and Afghanistan, Africa, and South America by motorcycle.  It’s hard to imagine solo travel in such lands before the days of internet and cell communication.  At 67, he’s one of the more spry and physically fit people on our team and thinks it is so great to not have to figure out where to stay after each long day of travel.

After a long day, Martin and all of us were treated to the teak laden luxury of the Royal Ping Garden & Resort.


31-May   Mae Hong Son to Chiang Dao, Thailand   136 miles

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One Response to “Long Neck Karen”

  1. Joyce & Ray Crum says:

    What a journey with SO much learning and emotions along the way. We are techno-challenged, but can follow your blog. We pray for safe travels as your trip continues. We hold you close in our thoughts, Joyce & Ray

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