18 April 2009
While cleaning out my cupboards an old hand written diary fell out and opened to this particular page:
"Provide neccessary assistance to the international traveller", greeted us as a black and white signpost at the border. Barely beyond that a signpost proclaimed "Burma beer hall". Our passports are stowed away in Thailand and i feel like a stateless person. TACHILEK is a busy market town with the cigarette trade being the most obvious. This crossroads town is quiet, the people are almost shy but friendly and the border guards wanted 500 baht/$10 to cross the border and smiled pleasantly at doing so - "oh i'll have to go back to Thailand to obtain some money", at my declaration the price halved, although still $AUD3.20 above the official cost. (The local people simply were wading and splashing their way back and forth across the muddy river!)
There is a strong Muslim presence and stalls selling bear's teeth, tiger parts and panda paws are alongside some dangerous looking machetes and knives. Dozens of tiger and leopard skins adorned many shops. There are Indian and even Bangladeshies selling their wares. I can only think of Ang Sun Su Chi, as i eat the nicest clear noodle soup that i have ever had!It has chicken stock,roast pork pieces, sprouts and Tibeten momos. We even had a coca-cola, while one of the shopkeeper's sons strummed an out of tune guitar. I cant help but think that the whole town is simply a showcase for Eastern and Western tourists.It seems too nice and surprising to me were the expensive cars driven by Burmese. No beggars were in sight and it is seemingly similiar to the Thai side in terms of wealth. We both so much wanted to travel further onward but apparently up to 1992 the Shah army had been bombing bridges. I can only feel that borders seem so uneccessary.
PS: the above market photo was taken by Choo Tse Chien in 2004. At this particular stage of my travels my idealistic belief was to never take photos of people in other cultures as a mark of respect. Sometimes the photographing becomes the holiday.
Posted by marcus micheaux (aust)