our current visas require that we leave thailand every 90 days. and before you start thinking, “oh, my goodness. i can’t believe they’ve been there 90 days already” just know – we haven’t. we still have a few weeks, but today is the only day we could all clear our schedules to go. so, bright and early this morning we set out to cross the border into burma (it’s officially the union of myanmar). we hired a minibus and driver to get us there and it took us about 4 hours. that’s with bathroom breaks and some pretty rough road – mostly issues with construction, resurfacing and the like. our first bathroom break was at a resort and restaurant that was created to provide financial support for the population and community development association.
this establishment has set some pretty high standards for their food prep – and i now have all new worries about dining out.
our driver dropped us off in mae sai, thailand – maybe
50 yards 45.72 meters from the border.
while having our passports checked i happened to look up and notice the clocks. the time in burma/myanmar is 1/2 an hour behind the time in thailand. i wish i’d taken a picture of it, but i didn’t. i was too preoccupied with the dangers of border crossing. and i was all preoccupied over nothing. it reminded me of another border crossing experience i’d had.
when i was 15, the orchestra at my high school made a trip to the 1986 (don’t stop reading to tax your brain trying to figure out my age, i’ll do the math for you. i’m 37) world expo in vancouver, canada. we flew from dallas, texas to seattle, washington – which in and of itself was huge for me. (i’d only flown one other time and that was from dallas to houston on a southwest airlines peanut plane.) in seattle we boarded a bus and headed for the border. the entire drive i was nervous, like sweating buckets nervous. we got to the border and were stopped by guards. who boarded our bus – just like i knew they would. and then they got off the bus and waved us through. and that was it. i was so let down. i’d expected so much more. i’d expected guns waving and people yelling at us in a foreign language (you know, canadian english.) i’d expected our luggage to get tossed. i’d been holding my birth certificate tightly in my clenched fist – so i could produce it as soon as the nozzle of some high powered automatic rifle was waved in my face. but none of that happened. the weren’t at all interested in a high school orchestra from dallas, texas. but we did stay on a cruise ship. you know, just in case those canadians decided we were dangerous and we needed to make a quick get away. (yes, i did believe that story then and now you’re not gonna convince me other wise.)
anyway, back to this border crossing. after our passports were checked we crossed into myanmar/burma.
where they took pictures of us, we paid them and they kept our passports for processing. and we proceeded on to tachilek, burma/mayanmar to do a little shopping. then we returned and picked up our passports and reentered thailand.
on our way home, we noticed several fires. in an effort to improve air quality it is now illegal to burn in thailand, but it is part of their culture and old habits die hard.
i could have taken this exact picture a dozen times on our way home. the smoke was heavy and the stink was strong. we can see the smoke from our house and the haze in our area is awful. and at times the smell is almost unbearable. i hear it gets better once the rainy season comes and that this year is nothing compared to last. which makes me thankful i didn’t experience it.