Mae Hong Son - Kayan - Long Neck New Year

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by DavidFL, Apr 2, 2017.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The Kayan New Year usually takes place in March, & by chance I got a tip off for the 2017 long neck new year in Mae Hong Son.


    The Long Neck / Kayan / Padong story in Mae Hong Son is a long interesting & controversial one & you can read some of the history on GTR here
    The Long Necks

    + Jurgens info & photos here
    A Visit To Mae Hong Son's Kayan Tribes.

    The site for the festivities in 2017 was at Huay Pu Kaeng, down the Pai river & just off the Nam Phiang Din road.

    The Nam Phiang Din road is a beauty & well worth doing as a half day trip from Mae Hong Son.
    The Nam Phiang Din road

    On the way to R3018 & the Nam Phiang Din road

    In you live in MHS you would know the event is on by the numerous banners up on the outskirts of town

    but outside of Mae Hong Son, you would never know & the event surely needs promotion outside of MHS to attract people to town; especially in the low season......what a briiliant idea it would be to promote?

    R3018 - the Nam Phiang Din road.

    a gorgeous bikers road

    You dont have to go that far, up & over a couple of of hills & you're at the Long Neck turn of.

    Off down the dirt you go


    It's not more than a kilometres, nice & easy, but bumpy in places - all ok in the dry, so nothing to worry about. 55

    Riverside, you park your bike, walk down to the river & take a boat over to the other side & Huay Pu Kaeng, site of the Kayan long neck village.


    There's a nice area set up for the event & I'm surprised at the set up.



    The main event - centre of the traditional new year activies are the official spiritual poles set up to dance around.

    plus a big tree trunk,
    strategically placed for offerings.

    More to come..


    Attached Files:

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    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    At dusk the show starts with a parade up the main street of Huay Pu Kaeng.
    I was a tad late & arrived on the scene at the end of the parade.


    two grannies at the entrance stood with 2 swords displayed.

    obviously important assets for the village

    it was unclear exactly how old they were.

    I also mused that maybe the 2 grannies were important assets too!
    two absolute classics.

    & the stories they could tell of their lives. Wow!

    At the dancing ground, spirit shrines are erected



    Once they are set in the right place, the men get the show under way




    it must have been a long day, because some guys had noticeable stability issues.



    It's a long dance of almost undetermined length, but eventually it does finish & there's an official photo op for everyone + the old GT Rider himself.

    the night time dancing to come, plus a lucky escape....

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  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The night comes & the action moves to a sala nearby...

    Introductory speeches are made
    the young female Kayan MC was a star performer all night.


    The lady government official for MHS culture opens the show, after an endless speech by the Kayan headman.
    Her composure throught the long Kayan speech was very admirable.
    & officially the night time show is opened.

    There are series of dances - 10 by the 3 long neck villages in Mae Hong Son.
    But not before presenation of prizes for the aftrnoon's sporting contests between the 3 villages - football, vollyeball & takraw, by both males & females.

    & there were some some extremely happy winners.
    & going on the banter & cheering for the wining teams, I'm sure it mst have been a lively & fun afternoon of super friendly, but keenly contested events. A reminder to not miss these out next time round.

    Young spectators

    The presentation of the dances was cool & fascinating to watch




    Slightly different colurs - head gear or scarves represented the 3 different villages





    Seating & free food was available







    Some of the kids performing were an absolute delight to watch
    & some could obviously do with a betterr diet perhaps.



    For the record
    Poi Ton Tee 2017 = Kayan New Year.

    Surprisingly there was a Palong - Dara group from Chiang Dao who also came to perform

    & that's when the rain lucky escape coming next.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The pitter patter of rain on the tin roof was indeed a scary sound.
    What if there was a cloud burst or torrential downpour on that little dirt road. It was only a kms, but riding on snot in the dark in the wet should scare any rider on regular street tyres. The thought worried me. I made a fast getaway as quick as I could from the show. I even think a couple of people were stunned by the fat old farang's sudden & immediate departure, mid dance performance!
    It took awhile to find a boatman to cross the river & the rain started getting heavier al the time.
    But I was on my bike asap, & slowly but surely plodding up that nice gentle slope.
    It was difficult to see how greasy the road was, the rain suddenly got heavy, but I was able to make it to the asphalt - 1.5 metre short & whoosh around came the back end!
    I think I may have let my guard down & relaxed too much literally within touch of the asphalt.
    Fortunately it was an extremely gentle spill & I was able to step off nicely as I layed it down.
    But putting my feet down my shoes immediately became door mats, totally clogged with clay.
    Bloody hell I thought how did I get this far even?

    No problem I thought it is only a metre + a bit to the asphalt.

    BUT, my shoes were totally clogged in the clay, you could hardly stand, let alone walk.
    In the dark & wet I made 3 valiant attempts to pick the bike up, but failed with the bike sliding out each time.
    What to do?
    Wait - & I did - 45 minutes in the dark & rain, with no shelter until the next escapee from the festival rocked up in his pickup.
    Hallelujah. The two of us managed to lift the bike & move it to safety one metre away on the asphalt.

    So close but unbelievably so far.

    Within touching distance of the asphalt!


    Back on the main road I chugged slowly through the foggy rain into town.
    I arrived drenched & funnily enough 2 kms out of MHS the rain stopped.

    Joy oh joy. What a night & what a event.

    There was a 7am spirit ceremony at Huay Pu Kaeng this morning, but yours truly decided to skip that event out of concern for damp snot on the road.

    Cheers one & all.

    If I'm right Kayan New Year next year 2018 could coincide with the new moon in March, or the 1st weekend after the new moon maybe?

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    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  6. Jurgen

    Jurgen Moderator

    Ooops! A great one, once you are over the mud! But a good shower for man and bike and only the great events remains. I will make sure to put this event on my next year's calendar , on four wheels. Thank you for pioneering this interesting venue, for sure it was worth the adventure :)
  7. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Moderator Staff Member



    Seriously...nice event. I don't see many foreign tourists attending the event though?
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Yes in retrospect it was an event organised for the 3 villagers themselves.
    But what a beauty it could be to promote tourism in MHS.

    Regarding "within touching distance" - it indeed was. I think that at the precise moment I recognized the asphalt I let my guard down & around came the back end & gracefully down I went. When I put my feet down & tried to walk I was shocked how big my shoes were with great big clods of earth stuck to them - how I got that far in the dark I don't know. Maybe it was because it was dark & in the rain you couldn't really see how bad it was. So close yet so far.
    Also amusing was the fact there was no phone signal there. So sit (stand) it out & wait in the rain my was my preferred solution. Eventually the cavalry will come. 55
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  9. phuketrichard

    phuketrichard Ol'Timer

    Thats sucks david
    i thought they banned the neck rings on young girls in thailand ?
  10. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Nice one day. As you know I love these events & given the number of then that we've enjoyed together what a pity not to be not with you on this occasion ..... you would have got the bike up without such a delay! 55
    Truly wonderful setting that sees you required to take a canoe to arrive.
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