Pattaya Daily News

20 May 2008 :: 13:05:22 pm 25239

Tourists welcome Hill Tribe move from Chiang Mai to Na Jomtien

A tour operator had the bright idea of bringing a number of hill tribe people down from Chiang Mai to Na Jomtien and setting them up in a replica village, so as to improve their fortunes and provide ready access to their culture and handicrafts for tourists.
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On May 19, 2008, a PDN reporter saw there was a reproduction of a Karen Long Neck Hill Tribal village, at the foot of Khao Cheejan, Na Jomtien and went to investigate. There he saw shops under sheds selling hill tribe products, such as gifts, clothes and handicrafts for tourists to buy. Along the path, there were a number of hill tribes, such as the Patong Hill Tribe from Baan Huey Chombpu, Mae Tang and the Karen, the Long Neck hill tribe. The mountain folk were giving a warm welcome to all visitors. Many tourists were surprised to see a Karen Hill Tribe in the Sattahip area, but irrespective of how it got here, it is a welcome tourist attraction, was the general opinion, and saves petrol by not having to make the trek up north to see them in their natural habitat.

Mr.Weerasak Yai-nat, (48), manager of Chokechai Tour Company, said that he was assigned by the company to take care of all the 30 hill tribe folk, such as the 19 members of the Karen Long Neck Hill Tribe and 11 of Karen Kayor and Karen Palong. Earlier, the company had received protests about ill treatment to distressed animal and humans by restricting the area for them to reside in and selling tickets to have them observed. But at the present time, the company has permission from the Interior Ministry in order to bring the Karens to work in Thailand and they are also Thai people, after all.

The PDN reporter had a chance to meet Mr.Ja-Ue Ja-lo (55), who is an expert in playing a Lao reed mouth-organ. Mr.Ja-Ue said that he had been here for about a month now and is quite happy with the warm welcome and accommodations he has received. Mr. Chatchai, his sponsor who had brought him here, has been giving him about Bt2,000  3,000 a month to sell gifts and play the mouth-organ. It is the same for Miss Tah-chang La-pang (18), a long neck Karen from the Tha-Yang tribe, Mae-aye, Chiang Mai, who said that she had been willing to come down from the mountains and is happy here. The only difficulty is that she sometimes misses her mother, but she can at least ring her occasionally. In addition, there were Long Neck Karen, both adults and children, who were happy to have pictures taken by tourists and to have friendly chats. Most of them said that they are happy and willing to be and work here.

Related News:

From The Sunday Times
May 25, 2008

Tribeswomen kept in “zoo”

A human zoo that allows tourists to gawp at the giraffe women of the Burmese Kayan tribe has opened near the beach resort of Pattaya, in Thailand.

Tourists used to travel to the northern resort of Chiang Mai to be photographed next to the women, whose apparently elongated necks are wrapped in dozens of brass rings weighing 20lb or more. Now, though, for the cost of a short taxi ride from Pattaya’s resorts and a £4 entrance fee, they can see the women in a new camp at Sattahip. The district?s chief, Narong Thirachantarangkoon, dismissed accusations that the refugees were being exploited. It’s better than staying in their home region and starving to death, he said.

Originally from Burma, the women of the Kayan tribe have been paraded before tourists in seven specially built villages for nearly 15 years, but the nature of their relationship with the entrepreneurs who sell the excursions has come under scrutiny from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees after a group of Kayan women who wished to resettle in New Zealand were refused exit visas by the Thai government.

While most British package-holiday operators no longer offer visits to these camps, tourists can easily buy excursions in resorts. Boycotting the visit is not the answer, says Rachel Noble, of Tourism Concern. Because these people have no rights, they are dependent on tourists to live take away the tourism and they starve. Pressure is needed to persuade the Thai government either to grant them citizenship or allow them to resettle overseas.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Tourism News

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