The Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority group, the Kayan People, are native to Myanmar. During the 1980′s and early 1990′s, a number of tribes fled over the border to Norther Thailand to escape civil unrest. Among the groups that fled were the Kayan Lahwi, a group famous for wearing brass coils around their necks. The coils are almost never removed, usually only to replace with new coils.
Girls start to wear the coils when they turn 5 years old. While the women are known as having “long necks”, it is actually an illusion. The weight of the brass weighs down on the womens collar bones, and compresses their rib cages. Therefore, their necks are not actually lengthened, it just appears so due to the deformation of their clavicle.
West of Bangkok, Phutthamonthon is a Buddhist park, highlighted by a 15.7m high Buddha statue. This statue is considered the tallest free standing Buddha in the world.
Around the statue are sites memorialising the four main stations in the life of Buddha: his birth symbolized by seven lotus flowers; his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree; his first sermon; and his death.
The park is also a popular place of recreation, attracting joggers, cyclists, picnic goers, and visitors wanting to feed the fish.
Located within the Grand Palace complex, Wat Phra Kaew, more commonly known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The main hall of the Wat contains the Emerald Buddha, which is made of jade, and clothed in gold. Only 66cm high, the Emerald Buddha first came of interest in 1434. The Buddha’s surface was covered in stucco, with no indication of the jade surface inside. When the temple the Buddha was being housed in was struck by lightening, a Monk noticed part of the stucco had broken off, revealing the jade beneath.
The temple also features three pagodas, all in different and distinct styles, representing the changing centers of Buddhist influence in Thailand. Phra Si Ratana Chedi, a golden Stupa in Sri Lankan style, is said to house some of the ashes of Buddha.