Mae Sai

Decided not to go to the beach just yet, but go north instead. Before that spent some more days in Bangkok. The kings birthday on December 5th was crowded.

Heading north i took an overnight bus to Mae Sai. It’s the northernmost place in thailand, small town growing around a four lane highway hitting the border crossing to Tachilek in Burma – an interesting place. I stayed there for half a year from september 2001 to March 2002, and on and off for some months after that. Back then i was a volunteer for DEPDC, and used to hang out a lot at the Childlife shelter too.

For a day i did what i often did on Sundays back then: bought a bag of ice coffee (yes, in Thailand it often comes in a plastic bag) and sat at the border watching if anything interesting happens on the bridge. It was as it used to be: Burmese and Thais are importing and exporting on cars, motorcycles, bicycles and and on their backs (no lorries anymore though, as another border crossing was opened a while ago a few kilometers east.) Tourists, Thai and sweaty fat farang, cross back and forth as you can cross to Tachilek for a day without a visa here. Street children follow them back and forth asking for ‘ten baht, ten baht’. And some mothers with worn faces sit on the curb and yell instructions: ‘There’s a rich looking bugger!’ (in languages i don’t understand).

I saw Lotti, an Akha boy now maybe 12, who used to stay at the Childlife shelter 6 years back. He liked to watch tv sitting on my lap and being thrown in the air, being a wild boy. But, he liked his freedom too much and didn’t stay there long. Now he was begging with the other kids.

People sell fruit and other snacks on the bridge and when a Burmese border guard comes walking down and the vendors hurry towards thailand, but go back to the bridge once he has gone. Street kids take their brake from begging playing under the bridge.

Some avoid the hassle of going through the official route, and jump over the fences to the bridge on the Thai side, and then down from the bridge on Burma’s side, and on under a barb wire fence to dusty Tachilek. Two big bags of something were taken to Burma this way. A tatmadaw soldier was watching over with an assault rifle on his shoulder.

After dark good is food sold on the sides of the big road next to the border: shan style noodles, purple rice pancakes (!) and sweet sticky rice rammed into bamboo tubes and cooked on fire. Plus all the usual thai food, and what’s new from my last visit, someone had a pizza oven. Small but still a heavy thing to bring to the street every night.

I visited DEPDC. It’s grown al lot. They even have a radio station now. Before the coup last September it was broadcasting in 9 languages. But now the military rulers does not want anything broadcasted in languages the Thai officials don’t understand. So for now, it’s only in Thai.

The elections are coming, the early voting was on last weekend and no alcohol was sold because of this. 23rd is the main voting day. After the election the ruling Council for Democratic Reform is supposed to hand power back to democratically elected mps and senators.

Spent one night in Chiang Rai, and continued Chiang Mai to see friends. Now back in Bangkok, and tomorrow off to the beach.

photos from Wednesday, December 12th 2007
Sprite to Burma A burmese border guard watches streetkids crossing to burma Someone is crossing the border under the fence Unofficial imports to burma(?) Mae Sai - Tachilek border Children and heavily loaded bicycles at Mae Sai - Tachilek border bridge
photos from Tuesday, December 11th 2007
Mae Sai -  Tachilek border in late afternoon MaeSai & Tachilek Some hindu deity and hills in Burma
photos from Sunday, December 9th 2007
dark clouds and light Chaopraya 1 Chaopraya 2 Chaopraya 3 Mr Dog is taking a nap at Saphan Taksin pier, Bangkok Bangkok skyline over the skytrain lane seen from the National stadium station Skytrain lane & cars 2 Streetfood Skytrain lanes King Skytrain lanes & cars Altars in front of Central World Plaza Crossing a road in Bangkok Bangkok
photos from Wednesday, December 5th 2007
Bangkok chinatown Bangkok chinatown 2 Kings birthday Kings birthday 2

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