National Geographic : 1972 Feb
addiction, increasing poverty, and erosion of traditional values in a world whose change is beyond control. Yet we found our Karen neighbors bore their troubles in a cheery, resilient, and generally relaxed way. Northeast of Laykawkey, about a 90-min ute walk away, lay the village of Pa Pae, where we had lived, off and on, for more than two years while studying another group of hill people, the Lua.* Sally and I knew that a handful of Karens had moved into these hills about 125 years ago and now far outnum bered the native Lua. While living in the same area and using the same agricultural methods, these neighbors continued to differ markedly in speech and dress, as well as in spiritual and social outlook. We decided to explore these *The author told of "Living With Thailand's Gentle Lua" in the July 1966 GEOGRAPHIC. See also "Mosaic of Cultures," by Peter T. White, and the supplement map, 270 Peoples of Mainland Southeast Asia, March 1971. differences and to learn how the Karens came to predominate in the land of the Lua. "Why do you want to live in a Karen vil lage?" our Lua friends asked. "You'll find it dirty and probably unpleasant. There's only a tiny creek in Laykawkey-those people never bathe! Besides, you don't know the lan guage, and we will miss you when you go." Later, when we were settled in Laykawkey, it amused us to hear our new neighbors casti gate the Lua as unclean and much too serious. Mats Roof "Bird With Two Heads" We were lucky to have Benny Gyaw with us when we moved. Ben was a refugee from Burma, where more than a million Karens dwell in the eastern hills and feel the impact of the long political struggle in that country. In Thailand, he joined more than 100,000 other Karens-the most numerous minority group except for the Chinese and Malays.