There was nothing that I wanted to do more than to go to Chiang Mai and meet these women.
There are only two groups in the world who practice this “neck stretching” tradition. One here in Asia and another in Africa!
The Kayan are a sub group of the Red Karen tribe. They are also known as “Long Necks” and they originate from Burma. During the civil war in Burma, this tribe fled to the villages on the Northern Thai border.
They wear brass coils around their necks (which are extremely heavy) that pushes their collarbone down, which then compresses their rib cage. They do this so that their necks can APPEAR long. It’s not the neck that gets longer, it’s their collarbone that gets deformed and thus lowered.
They apply the neck rings starting at the age of 5. As they get older they increase the amount of neck rings to further push down their collarbone. So the older you are the longer your neck appears! This tradition is known to be good luck for the women 🙂
Despite the language barrier, I got the chance to get to know some of the women and it was an amazing experience.