Cultural and Demonstration Center

Our last group activity was to climb above the elephant camp to a cultural center that featured the Hamong and the Longneck Kayan people. This center was established by a Christian missionary (see church in photo), who set up demonstration and living models for these two cultures.  Their actual villages are hours away, but the artisans stay here and sell their crafts

The Hamong were featured in Clint Eastwood’s movie, “Grand Torino.” They live in the hills of Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Their craft was primarily Batik.

The Longnecks were an interesting story. While the Hamong were Thai citizens, the Longnecks are immigrants, fleeing persecution from the regime in Myanmar. They are here legally, having received work permits from the government. The men go out and work daily jobs while the women do the crafts. The women put rings around their necks which are incredibly heavy and eventually stretch out the muscles (see above photo). I had heard of a tribe in Africa that wore similar hoops, so I was very surprised to see this cultural group in Asia… But I have had a nagging perception much of the past few days about the similarity of distant cultures. For example, the Thai dancing is slow, methodical, and based on hand movement. While the costumes were different, it reminded me of the Hula dancing from Hawaii. So far, and yet so close…

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