HOT INFO On The Road

Ben van den Anker
SE Asia: REPORT #3

Aug 06, Y2K Mae Sot, Thailand

I am with Sam"

Chiang Rai, this Sam invited me to play with his band and I happily accepted his invitation. I spend some days there, I don't know if the free beer he and his wife offered me had something to do with that I left without exactly knowing why, maybe I should have stayed a little bit longer. The people took me to a disco after closing time of the bar, I was the only "falang", foreigner. It was mighty interesting to watch the life band playing there, the Thais got a great sense for performance, fans in front of the stage, long hair blowing in the wind. I will miss those people over there. Another bar was called AA, it had a happy hour from 11 am till 5 pm, they called it the "Alcoholic Afternoon."

Lampang was boring to me, only interesting because they use horses there for public transport. By bus I landed in Mae Sot, this town, known as the "Wild West" of Thailand is so much different. Since Burmese government banned legal trade in 1991, the local black market is really booming. I drove to the riverside and they offered me cigarettes, Burmese whiskey and Levi's jeans(3$). The gem market in town is "Amazing Thailand" to me, Chinese, Burmese, Thai and Indian people are negotiating over the price in the shops and out on the open street.

I said hello to Hermann's girlfriend and by her I got introduced to David and his Burmese girlfriend. David started teaching in Thailand over four years ago; you won't get rich by teaching in Thailand. His girlfriend, with whom he lives together now for two years, tells me a lot about her life. She fled with all her family for the violence in the border region, after some years in a refugee camp she met David and started to integrate in Thai society, she still speaks little Thai. She, her English and her stories, impress me. She wants to study in Bangkok next year to be able to help her people.

When I tell her that I want to visit the refugee camps at the riverside she definitely don't want me to do that on my own. She asks her brother to take me there the next day and he tells me where to find him next day. I only had a glance at the fence as I was denied entrance. It seems that the Thai government wants to keep their existence quit, fearing the build up of a huge refugee volunteer "Industry", like in the 1970's at the Cambodian/Laos/Thai border.

Pee Eed's, Hermann's girlfriend's, parents own an up-market restaurant in town,  ai Fern". Falang prefer eating in these kind of restaurants, not knowing that their meat was bought on the market like every meat in town. Woman at the market have a fulltime job trying to kill the flies that want to have dinner too. The food is very reliable here, I prefer a lot eating,  f the street", it's mostly good, cheap and a good chance to meet local people.

I booked a ticket on the night bus to Bangkok this night, have to get moving to Trang, Songkla.

It seems that I still have deadlines waiting for me, even when having a  ear off!"

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