Friday, October 12, 2007

Border town

The bus ride was pretty much like all long-distance bus rides: at first you pile all your stuff on top of you and under you because you're worried somebody will take it, and by the end you're praying someone will take it so you'll have someplace to put your feet.

We stumbled out at this station in Tak at some ungodly hour of the morning. There were a dozen chickens wandering around the parking lot, but everybody had cell phones. The bathrooms were exceedingly clean and we were happy to brush our teeth and make ourselves somewhat human before catching a waiting minibus.

Mae Sot turned out to be a really cool place. It's a border town, so there's a little bit of everybody there: people in rice-farmer conical hats, monks in orange robes, women in headscarves, Burmese hill tribe people in traditional dress, Thais, Chinese, Indians, etc. Some come to escape trouble in their homeland; others come to make trouble (by smuggling gems and timber, for example). The focal point of the town is its big marketplace. More on Mae Sot tomorrow.

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