This could be a blog post with awkward pictures of the giraffe women in Thailand with myself in neck rings and glasses, but I have consciously decided to leave those out (and put in some more really good ones, courtesy of my dad). I know I should be a credible source and all that, also showing the “bad” things, but you have to remember that I am also student who has to go and find a job after graduation. My blogs happen to be mentioned at the bottom of my CV as a reference for my language skills and for now, I don’t want embarrassing pictures to take the attention away. (No comment needed on my Dutchisms and typical non-native mistakes. (Or are there really a lot of them?)) So that being said, let’s get on it!
When I went to Thailand in 2008, one of the things I was really excited about was meeting the giraffe women. I had learned of their existence in a school presentation about Thailand when I was 11. Let’s be honest here, I have a relatively long neck myself (and not particularly being an elegant swan, that is not always a good thing). Don’t get me wrong, though, I don’t relate or identify to them in any way, it’s just a minor thing we have in common. Minor, definitely. Hardly noticeable.
Anyways, after we visited Chang Rai and Chang Mai the first few days, we went up in the mountains of Mae Hong Son to visit the town where an artificial population of giraffe women lives. The only male people living there are approximately under the age of 10 I’d say, and they wear no jewelry whatsoever. Therefore, giraffe women. There are three Kayan villages in Mae Hong Son and we visited one of those. I will give you as much information as I can remember. It’s been seven years already, so forgive me if I leave something out or give information that is not up to date.
To get there, we drove through the hills and mountains. They were very impressing and a type of landscape I have not yet seen anywhere else in the world (of course, Thailand is the only Asian country I’ve visited so far…). And even though I was still young back then, I could already appreciate the view. At least, when I could see it through the mist and the low-hanging clouds.
Visiting the town, there was a very eye-catching barrier. You can’t go to the other side unless with specific permission. The guide that was showing us around told us it led to the real giraffe women and not many visitors got to go there. So, of course we took a few seconds to take a picture on the other side of the barrier. I mean, wouldn’t you?
Anyways, there was this little girl on a pink bike who was showing off. very. much. She was cute and she knew it. We also saw little girls who already had these huge holes in their earlobes… as if the neck rings weren’t enough! The earlobes of the old ladies that lived there were completely stretched out and it still makes me twitch to see these pictures even now.
These people live in very bad hygiene, it seems to me. Every member of the families is clothed nicely and all, and they’re obviously used to tourists, but the houses and school and streets of the town and so on, are in really bad shape. Of course you have to wonder, do they actually use any of it, knowing that the real giraffe women live a little bit further away?
Compared even though that, our eco lodging, which was very basic (and there were bugs and cockroaches here and there) and cold and not at all what I was used to, looked luxurious. The pictures below may give you that impression as well. But you have to know that, of the two hotels we stayed at before this one, the worst one was a Novotel. So yeah… Now you’re all thinking I’m a spoiled brat. Which I’m not.
Have you ever stayed in an eco lodge? Did you ever get to visit the giraffe women, whether it be in Thailand, Myanmar or anywhere else?