Writer Wrestles With Visit to Long-Necked Thai Tribe

Overcomes angry tour guides, conscience
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2009 6:06 PM CDT
One of the long-necked women of Thailand's Burmese Padaung tribe.   (Wikipedia)
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(Newser) – Most travel companies refuse to take tourists to Thailand’s Burmese Padaung tribe—whose women wear neck coils that artificially elongate their necks—arguing that the practice is exploitative. But Amit R. Paley, writing for the Washington Post, ultimately found a guide and wrestled down his conscience. "My ability to write about them might ultimately help the Padaung more than harm them," writes Paley. "I decided to go."

"The women were as breathtaking as I imagined. In person they looked less like giraffes than swans, regal and elegant." They didn't seem to mind the rings, either. But they said removing them was painful, and a "middleman" who assembled the village women for tourists refuses to let them leave. "I don't feel guilty about visiting the Padaung," Paley concludes, "but my feelings might be different if I had traveled solely as a tourist rather than as a journalist."
(Read more Thailand stories.)