With a six month, multiple entry visa I have to leave the country every 60 days. Yesterday was 60 days so off to Burma I went!
*Note: Officially it’s Myanmar, but locally the country is referred to as Burma.
Side rant before starting my story: Dear hippie, dreadlocked backpackers, you are in a city at a bus station. PUT ON YOUR SHOES. The whole of Thailand is not the beach. You take your shoes off out of respect when entering a person’s home or a temple because your shoes are dirty. If you were never wearing shoes in the first place then your feet are dirty and it defeats the purpose.
My morning started with a 5am trip to the bus station for my 6am bus to the border. Transportation in other countries is always exciting for me. Sadly Chiang Mai does not have a subway system for me to learn, so buses will have to do. After about 5 hours on the bus I got to the border town of Mae Sai. The scenery is beautiful along the way. I am terrible at describing the beauty of nature with better words than pretty and lovely. So the scenery was very, very green and lovely. Lots of mountains and rice fields.
The bus got stopped by the police several times along the way. They checked people’s IDs. I think non-tourist immigrants are not granted freedom of movement within Thailand. So the police check long-haul buses to make sure people are not going places where they do not belong. No one really cares about the only westerner on the bus though, so all good for me. They make it pretty easy. When you get off the bus in Mae Sai the taxi takes you as far as possible. There is a big blue building in the middle of the road where the border crossing is.
I have no idea what I am doing. I guess this isn’t my first border though. I went through a slightly scary checkpoint at night in the rain upon re-entering Israel from the West Bank. Then I walked across the border from Israel to Jordan when I went to Petra. I also had lunch in Tijuana when visiting San Diego.
Just like when I went to Jordan, there is a “no man’s land” in between the two borders. Between Israel and Jordan is just a big stretch of desert. Between Thailand and Burma there is a river, and I think a hotel. I guess the hotel isn’t just in the middle. It must belong to one of the countries, but it looks like it’s just in between countries.
It was mildly terrifying when the Burmese official took my passport. He stuck it in his desk and gave me a piece of paper that said Myanmar entry permit as a place holder. Apparently I can stay for 14 days. Does that mean they keep my passport for that long? Not sure I like that. I wonder if it would be the same if I flew in instead of walking across.
The little market on the Burmese side reminded me of the little bit of Tijuana I saw, minus the margaritas and mariachi band.
I’m thinking I make a trip out of my next visa run. Cambodia. Angkor Wat! 60 days will be up at the end of September.
Also I cannot believe I have been here for 60 days! Two months. My 10 weeks as a trip leader are almost up. That means that the part of my life that I had planned out is almost up. From here on out it’s vague ideas and “meh I guess we’ll see.” Don’t worry mom, it’ll all work out and I promise I am staying safe.
This is definitely the part where I start making it up as I go…