While many Karen (especially in the new generation of silversmiths) are building concrete or brick houses, there are still a number of villagers who choose to live in traditional style homes. These homes are usually on stilts and made of wood, which provides cooling in the very hot summer months.
Traditionally people would raise animals like chickens, and pigs under their stilt homes. In our village, many of the Karen are vegetarians and the area under the home is often used as a silver workshop for silversmiths.
Many homes also have “raised gardens”, which are like bamboo tables tops full of rich soil. The Karen grow forest herbs or sometimes vegetable (from seeds which they buy in the city) within these raised gardens.
The reason why they raise the gardens is to keep dogs and cats off of the vegetables, and to make it easier to maintain and water the plants.