Posted by: Heather | June 22, 2009

“Long Neck” Padaung (Kayan) Women (Burmese Refugees)

For years, I have wanted to meet the National Geographic, comercially fantasized, “Long Neck” women that fled from Myanmar (formerly called Burma) to Thailand for political refuge.  There are still many Padaung women “stuck” in Burma, although they live in areas of the country deemed “unsafe” for tourists to travel. In fact, we tried to find a way to meet the ones on the Burma side, but the government still restricts where you can and can’t go in the country under the military-run government.

While the Padaung women (and their children) are a profit-making machine for the Thai government, Ted and I really wanted to learn about these women…more than the normal 20-minute-flyby-on-a-tour tourist would see or notice.  We decided to spend a full day in each of the two villages housing these refugees learning the “other” side of the story.

The ladies are absolutely stunning with their long necks.  After all, the rings around their necks are for beauty.



We drew quite a curious crowd while making the video.


This little cutie didn’t want to give the tripod back, so we let him hang out for a while while taking hand-held shots.


Here’s Ted’s awesome video!  This piece really tells the story from “their” side.  It’ll surprise you.

A little side note to go along with our experience…. Ted lost his wedding ring shortly after we were married in 2006.  Knowing that we were going to be traveling the world, he opted to find a new one that had special meaning from somewhere in our journey, rather than replacing it with the same one.  After our experience in the long neck village, one of the women made both Ted and I rings out of the same brass that they use to make the rings around their neck.


Here we are with our new rings….





  1. Fascinating! Thanks! I am so much enjoying hearing about your travels!

  2. What a great video. Thanks so much for the update on your travels! I love your photography Heather!

  3. hi you two! it’s steph from steph and joey, ferry to sharm! we heard from steve (who we’re catching a ride to amman with) that he ran into heather hiking in petra!

    such a small world! the website is incredible, hopefully i can see it all when i get on a better computer! keep on posting the awesome videos, i’m addicted.

    love and travel blessings!

    • Random! We’ll keep posting. Make sure to subscribe to our blog so you are notified when we post new stories.

  4. Loved seeing and hearing this story! Looking forward to your next travel adventure!


  5. Cool!

  6. Can’t wait to see Ted with some rings around his neck also. In Israel for a month then off toNZ for 3 months. Doing the car thing per your rec $1000 for 3 months!!

    • I am so excited for you two. Great deal on the car! Make sure you check out our blog posts on NZ. They were our first posts, so we used LOTS of detail on places to stay, things to do, etc. Make sure to get a BBH guide for some great places to stay. The hostels (high-ranking) ones are really great in most cities. Pick the ones that are just slightly away from the town and they’ll have older guests. Avoid the ones that cater to the bus crowds.


  7. Heather, wow! How fun to travel vicariously through you and your hubby. Amazing! Your photography is wonderful and the dialogue educational.
    So enjoyed Ted’s film about these women. Do they ever remove them? And I appreciated his comments about the tourists. So true.
    Have a wonderful Christmas! jk

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