Ban Huai Sua Tao the most popular Long Neck village in Mae Hong Son
Ban Huai Sua Tao is a village of Long Neck Tribe, the closest from Mae Hong Son Town.
The most-touted Kayan village is Ban Huai Sua Tao, about 10 kms from Mae Hong Son. More remote, but definitely not off the beaten track, is Kayan Tayar, near the Shan village of Ban Nai Soi, 35 kms northwest of Mae Hong Son. Another ‘long-necked’ community is based at Huay Pu Keng and is included on long-tail boat tours departing from Tha Pong Daeng.
Ban Huai Sua Tao was formed in 1995 precisely for giving visitors easier access to the Kayan people. The village is easy to reach due to the impeccable road but some concrete weir stream crossings are very slippery.
- Migration and religion
The Kayan people have practiced their traditional Kan Khwan belief since they emigrated from Mongolia during the Bronze Age and started their wanderings towards the Salween River area in Karenni State (in present day Burma).
They lived there until they became displaced people in the 1990s as a result of the actions of the Burmese military junta.
Although some Kayan people have converted to Christianity many still follow their traditional Kan Khwan beliefs and at festive times of the year everyone participates in the ancient ceremonies.
- Mythological story
The world was created by the eternal creator god Phu Kabukathin, assisted by two creator deities: Pikahao and Kabukaban and their four Messengers: Mann created heaven, Ti created the earth, La Taon created trees and plants and La Nan created man and animals.
The components of the universe are linked together by a web; thus the earth is braced to the stars and the moon by a spider’s web. At creation earth still lacked density and the land and the water were fluid so the God Phu Kabukathin planted a small post in the ground. As the post grew the earth also grew into seven outer and inner layers and it became firm. The post was named: “The means of formation of earth” the Kan Htein Bo in Kayan.
- The Kan Htein Bo Poles
For the stability of the world and mankind everyone should pay homage to the Kan Htein Bo bestowed by God.
God also gave the people seven commandments to guide their lives. On their wanderings the Kayan often tried to plant Kan Khwan poles, but they never remained firm until they reached Demawso where they settled.
The pole is comprised of The Sun at the peak – venerated as the only self-illuminating planet in creation.
Next to it is the Moon, the Sun’s mate and man’s means of telling the time.
Then comes the Sanctuary – where the eternal deities reside and the streamer a ladder connecting heaven and earth, at the top of which is a spider’s web which humans must pass through to reach heaven.
Next to the Kan Htein Bo is a podium, the Kantan, where offerings are placed to the Gods and to the guardians of the woods, lands, mountains and waters.
Refugees in Thailand, they are unable to legally find work, making it difficult to sustain a decent livelihood. The Long Neck tribes are a highly controversial subject and many do not approve of this “tourist attraction”. The story of their tribe is quite a sad one and they are now left with not many other choices then to pose for tourists and sell home made products.
Others claim that these women have a better life here, than in their former homes in Burma which they fled due to ethnic persecution. Whether you visit the villages is a personal choice. Entrance fees are 250 baht per person.
How to get to Ban Huai Sua Tao : If you have transportation, or any Travel agency in Mae Hong Son can arrange a tour. From Mae Hong Son Town drive along the route to southwest of Mae Hong Son Town, Highway No. 108. When you see Bon Voyage Gate turn right to 128 drive about 200 m. try to slight left onto Route 1250 and drive pass Klai Rung reservoir about 8.5 Kms.(slippery and perilous water crossings) slight left again onto rural road No. 4012
Address : Ban Huai Sua Tao, Pha Bong, Mueang Mae Hong Son District, Mae Hong Son 58000, Thailand
GPS Coordinates Map : 19.25818, 97.90332
Entrance : Entry fee is 250 THB