The Paduang, a small ethno-linguistic subgroup of the Kayah people, have become famous in recent years due to a very unusual tradition. From late childhood, Paduang women are fitted with brass neck rings, or coils ... and no one seems to remember why! One theory is that fitting coils, which appear to elongate the neck, made the women less attractive to raiding parties from neighbouring tribes. Another idea is that the coils protected the women from attacks by tigers whilst working in the fields (as tigers bite the neck of their victims). Whatever the reason, the tradition persists to this day.
As the women grow older, more rings (or longer coils) are fitted – the coils can reach up to 30cm high. The heavy rings depress the collarbones so that the women appear to have stretched necks; you may know of this custom via terms such as ‘long-neck’ or ‘giraffe’ women. For the first time in many years, it is now possible to visit the Paduang in their home territory, remote Kayah State, near the Thai border. We hope that by running tours to this area, we can assist the Paduang , an agrarian tribe, to meet and trade with visitors on their own terms, and help them to increase their standard of living.
Day 01. Inle - Phekhone – Loikaw.
We start the tour to the land of the Paduang at Inle Lake. Board a long tailed boat and head south, through the lake and along the Bilu River to Sagar village, a beautiful 3 hour, 64 kilometre journey. Along the way we pass the villages of the Pa-O, Shan and the lake-dwelling Intha tribes. Explore the village and nearby ruins and have lunch in this remote and friendly region. We then continue onwards by boat to Phekhone through the ‘second’ Inle Lake – an area untouched by tourism. The river continues from the end of the lake across the state border and into formerly closed Kayah State. Upon arrival in the small state capital, Loikaw, we head (if time permits) to the famous pagoda of Taung-Kwei. Literally meaning ‘Split Mountain’, this pagoda-topped hill rises straight out of the surrounding plain and, as the name suggests, is split in two. After watching the sunset from this quite unique viewpoint, we proceed to a local restaurant for dinner and overnight at a local guesthouse.
Day 02. In and around Loikaw.
We have breakfast at a local restaurant this morning before proceeding to the local market. From here we travel to meet the Paduang people. You can interact with the people with the help of your guide, photograph the women and peruse the handicrafts on offer that give the people an alternative source of income to farming. After spending time with these fascinating people, we continue onwards to see some ritual Nat (Spirit) flagstaffs and a traditional Kayah weaving workshop. We conclude the day with a visit to the Kayah state museum, where you can learn more about the Paduang culture, as well as the cultures of the other tribal peoples that inhabit this remote state. We have dinner at a local establishment and return to our guesthouse for the night.
Day 03. Loikaw - Aungban.
After breakfast at a local restaurant, we start the 170 kilometre, 5 hour journey to Aungban. Along the way we stop to discover the unique Myin Mahti natural cave, which houses many ancient Buddha images. From Aungban we will drive you to the next point on your journey.
After your arrival at Aungban junction, your car journey will continue to your next nominated destination. We can bring you back to your starting point on Inle Lake, or perhaps to Pindaya and Shwe Oo Min cave or Kalaw, with its trekking possibilities. Alternatively, we can drop you at Heho airport to catch an afternoon onward flight to Mandalay, Yangon or Ngapali Beach.