In our recent trip to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, meeting a long-neck woman was one of the highlights. This exotic tradition of wearing brass rings to lengthen their necks is pretty fascinating, and something I wanted to see in person. But is it ethical going?
These beautiful people are refugees from Burma (Myanmar) and international organizations such as UNHCR has urged tourists to boycott long-neck villages, describing the women as victims trapped in “human zoos.” But it’s more complex than that. Ignoring these women will leave them in a worse situation as tourists are the only income source. And shouldn’t we ask the women themselves?
My wife and I have been talking about going to Chiang Mai for quite some time and finally made it happen! Located 1,200 km from Krabi down south where my wife is from, Chiang Mai is completely different. With jungle-covered mountains, exotic hill tribes, impressive rivers and waterfalls, stunning temples, and its exciting history as the former capital of Lanna Kingdom (1296–1768) — Chiang Mai is one of the most incredible destinations in Thailand.
Below is a summary of our five-day stay in Chiang Mai and around; I will write more about each part later in separate posts.
Baan Mon Muan Resort up the mountain
There are major differences between northern and southern Thailand — almost like two different countries. Despite the fact that most tourists travel to southern Thailand, it’s said that Chiang Mai in the north is Thailand’s most beautiful city. So, what are the differences?
The food in northern Thailand is different from the south that we as foreigners are most familiar with. In the north of Thailand, the traditional food is milder, salty and sour, but rarely sweet. Some famous dishes in northern are Nam Prik Ong / Nam Prik Noom, Northern-style curries and Sai ua sausage (also known as ‘Chiang Mai Sausage’). This tasty, spiced pork sausage is found everywhere in northern Thailand. Food in the old days was traditionally eaten at a small table called khantoke.
Northern Thai food on a khantoke table.