First, this is not just a village, but an ethic one, where mountain tribes’ people from the north of Thailand are living. Second, you don’t have to go to the north; it’s just a 20 minutes drive south of Pattaya!
To get there go along Sukhumvit up to the left turn to Dolphin Show (you’ll easily see the sign). The sign Moo Baan Chon Pao – ethic village – is there too, much smaller, but still visible; the village is only 3 km inside that left turn. The Moo Baan Chon Pao signs will countdown the kilometers: 2, 1.5, 1 км – and here it is, the village with its thatched roofs, on the right! Another landmark: there is a left turn to Love Art Park just opposite, on the other side of the road.
The gravel road leads you to the entrance and ticket offices. The ticket to the village is 400 baht, but if you show your Thai driving license it will cost you only 100!
The Triumphal Arch with the village name. I couldn’t find it in Google Maps, but it’s just a question of time I think, and soon it’ll be there!
The entrance ticket is provided with a surprisingly smart map of the village, a purely tourist destination. It is geometrically planned with long alleys – mini-villages of each tribe. The central alley leads to a big airy construction with the scene and benches inside – a concert hall. Mini-villages end with vegetable allots (they are on the top of the map).
A beautiful fence of bamboo is stunning!
Flowers and landscaping lovers will enjoy themselves here.
The architecture and design of the village are a step ahead in comparison with the way Thais designed the similar places even a decade ago.
The village is brand new; they still have something to be constructed. Like this portico roof.
People of Lisu tribe are living on the main alley. We came there at siesta time – everyone was hiding from the heat inside the houses and taking a nap. But as soon this lady noticed me, she, faster than a soldier at the wake-up call, got up, said “Bonjour!”, put on her outfit and posed. After being photographed, she did the same in the reverse order (skipping “bonjour”), collapsed on her couch and instantly got to sleep. It’s what I call –professionalism!
Green color synthetic net is hanging over the houses in the alleys; against the sun I guess but the opposite, green house, effect. I was sweating under this shelter as if in the sauna. That is why the best time to visit the village is in the late afternoon.
No doubt the street of Karen tribe – the famous tribe of long-necked ladies – is the most popular with the tourists. As soon as we entered this street, this woman came out of the house and started weaving. Have no idea whether it’s a real weaving or just a performance, but great photos are guaranteed!
Posing for the long-necked girls, like for the models, is a routine. The girl far left in the photo spoke good English and was willing to answer my questions. The rest beauties were silent and only swayed their heads, like exotic flowers, on the ringed necks. They all were brought to this village a year ago from the north, where they’d lived on the border with Myanmar. Their life story there is quite obscure. They were discriminated by Myanmar people who didn’t let them go to school, so all of them are illiterate. When I asked: Do you like it here? – the girl, after a moment thought, answered briefly: it’s better here than it was there… By the way, she’d learnt English within a year, with no books, just from tourists! Motivation works wonders!
There are only three Karen families in this village, two men, four ladies and the kids. Each woman has 2-3 children. The rest of the men work far from the village and only visit their families here.
Of course, I asked about rings on their necks! This is a very old tradition, but my interlocutor could say nothing about its origin and reasons. The girls start to wear the rings at 5, their number is increased every year and it makes the neck longer. The rings are never taken off, only when there is a need to replace old for new or bigger size ones. They wash their necks putting their fingers under the rings. They sleep on the pillows of special shape. Horror stories that their husbands put the rings off their necks in punishment, dooming the women to suffer, have no grounds, at least today. Long-necked women are free to choose husbands from other tribes.
All children from this village go to school now. And here they are, the first outcomes of education! 5-year old daughter of my interviewee refused to wear the rings! Now it’s only a half of the girls of Karen tribe are wearing them, the rest have told their firm “no” to this barbarous tradition. It looks like the ladies in the photo are the last Karen tribe generation wearing the neck rings all without exception.
Every tribe has its vegetable allot at the end of their street. Other food they buy in the nearby shops or it is delivered to order.
Corn is the favorite food of the villagers. It’s hanging on every house in beautiful arrangements. The houses with thatched roofs reminded me of Ukrainian huts
Comrade Khrushchev, corn apologist, would definitely enjoy himself here!
The next alley is people of Akha tribe home. It was deserted, everyone was celebrating the siesta. Only this laborer around the corner of the last house kept on spinning…
Here are the beauties from the next street, from Paulong tribe. The women of this tribe black their lips and teeth. The ladies insisted that I bought something in their souvenir shop – their main source of revenue
Here children came, actively involved in the business: they started dancing and showing “V”. This sign might touch the tourists effectively and they become generous with the tips.
I got upset looking at the kids: for no reason would like my offspring to have such life… Karma is a tough thing, after all!
Time is not frozen in this village: all women wear trendy thick eyebrow (men’s nightmare), and there Thai pop music played in some houses. 🙂
People have kitchens inside the houses, toilets – outside, behind every house. There is no electricity in the alleys with dwelling houses, so everyone goes to bed as soon as it gets dark.
The choice of souvenirs is standard; I couldn’t find anything that I hadn’t seen before. While siesta – is a sacred time! By the way all men of the village looked morose. This is the way all Highlander are I think!
Here is a hint: have more 20-baht banknotes with you – they go like hot cakes here as tips for photos taken or interviewing.
There are some more entertainments in the Moo Baan Chon Pao village besides tribal peoples themselves. You can wear tribal costumes and be photographed in them, or practice archery. There are several dance performances a day, too. So if you distance yourself from the thoughts of karma and reservations, nice weekend impressions are guaranteed!