Monday, April 28, 2008
Mae Sai, Portal to Burma - I have made it!!!
Immigration to Burma at Mae Sai
I have officially crossed the whole of Thailand!! All on buses alone, travelled vertically from Kuala Lumpur, through to Hatyai, cross Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and finally Mae Sai!!! Woo hoo~~~!!! 3900km and 37.5 hours of bus rides in total!!
37.5 hours on the red lines.
I feel so achieved!!!
My bum hurts.
Hatyai – Bangkok = 993km (RM75 on second class bus, 13 hours)
Bangkok – Chiang Mai = 656km (RM42 on second class bus, 10 hours)
Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai = 191km (RM12 on first class bus, 3 hours)
Chiang Rai – Mae Sai = 68km (RM3.5 on public bus, 1.5 hours)
Mae Sai – Bangkok = 924km (RM65 on first class bus, 13 hours)
Bangkok – Aranyaprathet = 275km (RM4.8 on train, 6 hours)
Two weeks ago I took my last journey up north from Chiang Rai and into the border town of Mae Sai, the most northern town in Thailand if you don’t know.
On the tuk-tuk to Chiang Rai bus station.
Bloody tuk tuk costed more than my bus ride to Mae Sai. (RM5) -.-
Tuk tuk driver brought me right in front of a public bus which I got on without a second thought the moment the conductor told me it only costs 35baht to get to Mae Sai. (what a sucker for cheap ticks)
Two hours later, I was blogging at my guesthouse looking into Burma.
O.. there’s burma~
Mae Sai is a beautiful little town with little to offer except for sheer serenity and peace & quiet. Many small family run guesthouses are set up alongside the river separating Burma and Thailand, the one I stayed in was run by a British man.
There’s a small market here, where Burmese would come over during the day and go back in the evening to earn a small living from the occasional travellers who come here to renew their visas. You can find more locals here than foreigners as Thais love to take a weekend visit over to Burma for some cheap buys.
Here, I met Steve (an old Australian drug dealer/trader who has earned his fair share and decided to live in Thailand for the rest of his remaining life, funny old guy) and Dino (a German who came to Thailand and decided never to leave, set up his business in trading and retailing online and earning three times the salary his country pays).
Me and Dino hooked on pretty fast (since both of us are living off the internet) and decided to tour Mae Sai on a motorbike.
Giant scorpion on top of a temple hill
Enjoyed the night scene of Mae Sai on top
Nice isn't it?
Our very cute motorcycle key holder.
We also went to a street side steamboat,
Give a whole new meaning for food on the road
That served a lot of bloody meat.
Dino and I had a fun time chatting and exploring new areas and opportunity what internet could bring.
And cam-whoring as well. Dino taught me how to ride a motorcycle!! Yay!!! I managed to get as far as 500m!!!
The next morning, I woke up with a little (big) surprise on my face.
Somehow in the middle of the night I got stung by an incredibly horrible insect which I know nothing of and my eyes has swollen reducing my eyeball to half its size!!
I looked in the mirror in horror, nearly shriek to death thinking that my face was permanently destroyed, which of course I didn’t.
I have to become a timothy-to-be with the eye-patch I bought from a local pharmacy.
arg.... Shiver me timbers..
But still it’s still looked very palpable. So I resort to a Chanel by the street.
Nothing beats a good shade to protect your ugly appearance.
Steve and Steve brought us youngsters to see a home they bought in Mae Sai some distance away. A acre of land and a three storey house!! I want to retire too!!
That very same day, I went to Burma for a stroll! :D (Raj, you can tie me to a pole and call my mom now)
Almost everyone who comes to Mae Sai was here to cross this immigration border.
Monks crossing to Burma
Now for a day’s pass to Burma, you need to pay $10.
And you’re on your way to the city of the Golden Triangle.
At the other side of the border, you’ll be able to find a lot a lot of imitation goods, that to my presumptions most probably come from China. There’re many small handicrafts and trinkets sold too. But every other shop was selling almost the same thing over and over. So the price was pretty much fixed. But it’s good to haggle too.
Be prepared to get harassed by kid beggars though. There were lots of them roaming around the street barefooted begging for money, it’s a sad sight to see.
Burma is clearly a little less developed as compared to Thailand, you can pretty much see the instant difference the moment you crossed the border.
It was a little too unbearable to see really. I got back just before the immigration closed at 5pm.
That evening, I boarded a bus back to Bangkok. Half an hour into the journey, the bus stopped and police and soldiers came abroad to do a check up. To spot for illegal immigrants from Burma, said Dino.
Policeman posing for my camera before asking for my passport -.- (so vain)
The control was really tight. No one was left unchecked. Not even Dino.
Soldier checking Dino’s plastic bag.
Just when I thought it would be another blind check.
A guy was called forward from behind. (A Burmese I presumed)
He was holding some documents when he stepped off the bus after the police.
The bus soon departed, without him.
It’s really depressing when you imagine how these people wanted to badly to come over to Thailand to make a better living just because they can’t find one back home. I heard from Dino that just few weeks ago, nearly a hundred Burmese illegal immigrants died hiding behind inside a bus due to suffocations while crossing the border.
This journey into the golden triangle, third world countries, and countries I would not have known through discovery channels and misunderstood because of Hollywood block buster movies has really opened my eyes.
Till now, I couldn’t forget the face of that kid who begged me for money the day I visited Burma.