Friday, March 6, 2009

from Mae Sot back to Bangkok

I just took the night bus from Mae Sot last night and now I am in Bangkok again. The group decided not to stay in the place I was at in Sukhothai. Maybe because they thought it wasn't going to be up to their high standard, or because they knew I needed a break. Even Sarah decided to stay with the guys and let me do my thing. With that freedom I decided to go back to Mae Sot.

I needed a reality check, as far as talking to real people with real problems, and I also left my shorts and towel there. Some people thought that they wouldn't be there anymore, but I had called and asked the nice woman who works at the Green Guest House to hold them for me and I knew she would. When I showed up the first thing they did was pull out my towel and shorts.

I really like Mae Sot, it makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. I did just what I wanted and had a great time talking to interesting people. After I arrived at around 1:30 pm two days ago I got some Phad Thai at this little place I know and then got some tea at the Burmese place in the Muslim area. The tea shop is cool because they have good samosas and good tea and people are always there to talk to.

First I talked to a jade and gem trader. Its just like the guide book says, a Chinese muslim who gets the stuff from black market in Burma and then sells it to China or India. He was nice and was telling me how he had been in Mae Sot for 33 years and still did not have a Thai citizen card. He said he didn't need it because he never left Mae Sot and he would go back to Burma if he situation ever got better there. He also said that he originally left Burma through Korea. I'm not sure how it works but I guess there was a war where Burmese troops were sent and then any of them fled. He made lots of jokes about Koreans killing 10 people and then 30 fleeing.

The next person I talked to was a refugee in America but left Burma in the same way. He fled the army when they were in Korea and was a refugee there for 4 years then in Bangkok for 11 years and now has been in Indiana for a few years. He was in Mae Sot to try to get his dad into America. His dad just left Buram about 1 year ago and is now a refugee outside of Mae Sot. He said America is only taking refugees for one more year so it was very important to try to get him into America. He was very sad and said it had been 20 years since his family lived together and really hoped he could reunite it. He had some meeting with the UN later that day and I wished him luck.

I left the conversation almost in tears. People have real problems out there. I wish there was something more I could do, and I have told myself I will return to be a volenteer in Mae Sot for a few months in the future. After the tea house I went to the herbal sauna that I like and that was really nice as usual. The next day I just had breakfast at this little place I like, then read and slept in the garden area of the guest house. In the afternoon I hung out with the school teacher/owner of the guest house and helped her with some english lessons for her class. Then back to the tea house for food this time, and the sauna before I caught the night bus to Bangkok.

Now I am here and had some breakfast with Sarah while the guys are still recovering from last night. Today I think we are going to the grand palace and then taking the night bus tonight to Koh Phan-gan for the full moon party. Should be interesting and for two nights I don't need to pay for a room because I am traveling at night. Thats all for now, I mostly wanted to share the lives of those people I met at the tea house. I needed that break from the group to get back to reality and why I am here in this country. Not just to party but to meet real people, absorb and learn about the culture, and see for myself what is happening around the world. Peace and love to all.


  1. Nice post. What kind of volunteering can you do in Mae Sot? I'm currently busy working in Bangkok but I have been thinking about it a lot. I always feel like I want to give something back to the wonderful Thai people even though their government is doing their best to make life difficult for us who want to live here. Me and a few of my friends have been talking about opening a school or an orphanage or both in Isaan but so far it's been hard to get away from the "normal" life.

    Anyways I am currently helping a friend of mine, a Thai girl, to set up and promote her blog. Bangkok Escort, A Thai Girls Diary.
    She is a great girl that is trying to change her life and she needs all the promotion and help she can get.


  2. You can do almost any kind of volunteer work in Mae Sot. Teaching english of coarse, or anthing else if you can speak Thai, or Karen. Plus clinics, orphanages, and other random stuff. When I was back there, people were building a playground at a school for about 150 Burmese kids. All the work is relatively informal, just go there and you will see how abundant the need for voluneers are, there are flyers all over the place. Find a nice guest house that you can get a cheap months rent or something and spend your time helping people, thats what is needed!