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This post is part of a larger trip report from my 17 day trip to Thailand (Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Bangkok) and Hong Kong!
- Using Miles to Book Flights on American Airlines Home from Hong Kong
- Using Miles to Book Flights on Continental to Thailand
- Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort Review
- Thailand Beaches Day 1: Phi Phi Excursion
- Thailand Beaches Day 2 & 4: Railey Beach
- Thailand Beaches Day 3: Hong Island
- Massages and Dining in Ao Nang, Krabi
- Northern Thailand – First Stop Chiang Mai
- Three Day Trek and the Golden Triangle Day 1
- Three Day Trek and the Golden Triangle: Day 2
- Three Day Trek and the Golden Triangle: Day 3
- Spending New Years Eve in Chiang Mai
- Wandering Around Chiang Mai
- Le Meridien Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai Hotel Review
- Aloft Bangkok Hotel Review
- Temples, Activities, and Dinning in Bangkok
- Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel Review
- Things to do in Hong Kong
- A Day in Macau
As you may remember from Day 1 of our trek, we went on a private three day tour of the Golden Triangle (Northern Thailand).
Day 2: Elephant Ride through Karan Village, The Golden Triangle Buddah, Long Neck Tripes, Chiang Rai
The day started off with by driving just a few miles down the road to another area of the Karan Village. This is the village that we hiked through the day prior and spent the night at. Down the road we saw elephants walking with their mahout (elephant caretaker) and soon realized those were the elephants that were going to take us through the village. While this was very different then my owning an elephant for the day experience (more on that later), it was cool to sit on an elephant and see the real life living of the village.
After the 30-45 minute elephant trek, we made way to the top of a mountain area where we were able to stand on Thailand turf and see both Burma and Laos from a far. This was the true Golden Triangle area where all three countries meet. There was also a symbolical Buddha present at this location and we saw many monks praying. It was a beautiful view looking out at the hillsides of the other two countries.
Afterwards we headed over to a village where there was a Burma refugee camp of the long neck tribe. We started walking through a regular village first and were fortunate enough to be invited into one of the houses to see how they live. It was a straw house, probably no bigger than 300 square feet. It was just an open floor plan with no separate rooms. The kitchen pots were hung from the ceiling and there was a little fire going in the middle of the room where they were cooking their lunch. Along the edge of the room were slightly raised wooden beds with no more then a feather bed and some sheets (if that even). The family was so welcoming. We tried to talk to them as much as we could and had some luck with the youngest daughter to understand the traditional Thai lunch she was making.
After we walked through the village we headed down the round a little to see the long neck tribes. This is a refugee camp for the Burmese that escape over the border due to the corrupt government. They do charge to enter this village, which raises some controversy. Some tourists do not want to support the tribes as wearing the gold rings around their neck has some health concerns and they believe they are putting themselves in danger just to earn money from the tourists. The rings also weigh down the rest of the body and thus make their necks look very long (hence the name!). I personally was okay paying the money to visit this tribe and very happy I did – it was another eye opening experience. While the Burmese folks living there are much happier as they are now safe, it is sad to see some of them without their entire family and essentially trapped not able to go anywhere.
I was actually able to sit down with one of the young girls who was around the age of 17. She has a daughter of her own and escaped to Thailand with her aunt (and hasn’t seen her parents since). I was shocked that she was able to speak some English, but she said she has been able to learn some stuff from the tourists. She was one of the few that was able to speak English (slightly). I asked her about the rings around her neck and she said she thought they made her look beautiful. They are a sign of beauty in their culture and she did not have an issue with wearing them. They had some sample rings for us to hold and they were extremely heavy, so I cannot even image them around my neck!
After visiting the long neck tribes we made way to Chiang Rai. We had just one night in the city, but really enjoyed walking around and seeing a new area. It is similar to Chiang Mai, but smaller. I wish we got to explore the city more, but were limited due to timing. However, many of the things we saw throughout the three days are close to Chiang Rai, so there is definitely a lot to do during the days outside the city. They also have some of the same daily excursions as Chiang Mai, such as cooking classes and elephant farms. We stayed at the Le Meridien Chiang Rai, which was a lovely resort. More review to come, but it was about 10 minutes outside of the city with more of a resort feel (unlike the Le Meridien Chiang Mai which had more of a city feel).
It was another great day exploring the northern part of Thailand!