Some time ago I made contact with Andrew and Wendy, who have spent a year in Mae Sot as volunteer teachers for Burmese. Since I wanted to do something like this for a long time we decided to meet up in Mae Sot, as they had just arrived back there for another stint. I'm surprised when I roll into Ban Thai Guest House, it's almost the red carpet reception. They were all expecting me, there is a room for me and the lady from the NGO next door is also there. After this I was more or less expecting that this NGO would place me somewhere, but after a long time they let me know that they have no use for me. During the next month Wendy and Andrew take me around some of the refugee schools.
Um Piam refugee camp
14/2 A Valentine's Day that I won't forget for a while. I take a day trip to Umphang, a rollercoaster ride of about 140 km. There isn't much to see there, except for the scenery on the way.
It gets dark on the way back, but you can't really get lost around here:
Just before returning to Mae Sot I narrowly miss hitting a cyclist, who has stopped in the middle of the left lane to pick something up. After my return I learn that a Karen leader, Mahn Shah was murdered in his home that afternoon. You would think that there would be road blocks and police all over the place, but no, this was 'only' a Burmese. The cops were reportedly busy in the town centre instead, handing out flowers to passers-by on the occasion of valentine's day.
20/2 Visit to Blue Sky School on the Mae Sot rubbish tip. About 300 people or so live right in the rubbish, as there is no adjacent space where they could live. They make a living by sorting through the rubbish and selling anything that can be turned into a little money or re-using some things for themselves. Amazing how these people have to live. The kids in the school seem very happy, though.
The "main street".
22/2 A French lady wanted me to take her to the school on the dump, but in the morning I receive a phone call from Andrew, advising me not to go: there was an explosion at the dump and a number of people got hurt. It seems that somebody disposed of a bomb in the trash and when the Burmese people started digging through the trash that was being dumped by a truck it exploded. One man was said to have lost at least one eye, 12 others were injured, but less seriously. Later there were other versions of events in the media and I never find out what really happened. What I do know for sure is that all victims were taken to the public hospital and on discharge were immediately deported to Burma.
Always a welcome sight: the ice cream vendor sidecar bike.
A farmer selling garlic from his trailer. I love the contraptions you see on the roads in Thailand!
My home for the next 9 months.
A slight misjudgement on my part regarding the wearability of the Mitas tyre. I thought you can run the tread down to nothing, like you can on other tyres.
If the property is humble, so is the spirit house, but there is hardly a house in Thailand without one.