From MSNBC the photo here is the border town where I entered Bur’ma into the city of Tach-i_lek. Right behind where this photographer was standing I waited to meet my friends just a couple weeks ago. I learned a lesson (one that I already knew from Thailand but failed to implement in Bur’ma) old, white, fat (we are all fat) men should not stand around on the street looking bored.
It wasn’t long until the tuk-tuk and rickshaw drivers started to approach me. “Do you need a ride? I take.” My reply and gesture “No, no thanks; I’m just waiting for a friend.” They give me a puzzled look. A few minutes later, I get various hand signals indicating they can provide me with a sexual companion, “NO, NO I’m just waiting.” I try my cell phone - no signal. Maybe I should start taking pictures of everything, but no, I just stand there like an idiot, which they interpret to mean you dumb locals you haven’t offered me the right thing yet. So out come the drugs, everything from Viagra to the local homemade stuff. “No, no not interested.” So they go back to the standards, various hand gestures indicating they can get a male for sex. Yow time to move on.
Any longer and they probably would have brought out a slave girl I could buy – ‘make good deal.’ I know this happens because my contact there purchased one in order to keep her out of the sex trade (He and his wife adopted the girl.)
The Newsweek article goes on to say this was “once was a cloak-and-dagger-type redoubt for opium dealers” what a joke! The reporter didn’t walk very far off the main street. I have a favorite restaurant just a mile upstream from the official border crossing (a wonderful Thai place with seating over the river, best banana drinks ever, but I digress ) and just out of sight of that border crossing BUT within sight of a secondary guard post on the Thai side. It is particularly interesting because river is shallow, we’ve watch all kinds of products carried on shoulders across the river. I’ve seen disassembled tractors and truck parts going to Bur-ma and large suspicious looking burlap bags coming into Thailand. We just ignore (err… take pictures of) them, slurp on our banana smoothy thing, and spoon down another bite of superb spicy but unknown Thai food.
** To my surprise the country working the hardest behind the scenes to overthrow the current dictatorship is Norway – go figure – and 2 bonus points for them.
** Late Saturday, Thai television was reporting that Burmese authorities were expected to close this border crossing on Sunday. I haven't heard a confrimation on this.
** Is it Myanmar or Bur’ma? Interesting reading – if just to learn how various governments justify it.