June in Thailand: Near the Burmese Border

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Mae Sam Laeb was an odd little border town consisting of only one dusty street containing a few little shops. These shops sold all sorts of odds and ends from army supplies to live fish from an aquarium! An equal oddment of people were on the street, from hardy looking men to saffron-clothed monks and little children just come home from school (wherever that was).

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Even odder was a huge carp breathing its last, seemingly abandoned after being weighed.

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The poor bug-eyed fella was simply left on the concrete to gasp its way to death. I felt so sorry for it.

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The real purpose of stopping here was to sign in with the Thai border guard as it was hard to monitor the border, especially at night. I wondered what they’d do with our details and how they’d find out about any mischief we’d get up to anyway.  I unashamedly asked the very obliging men in uniform for a picture.  They seemed fairly pleased to have their pictures taken, though I didn’t get their address to send them a copy!

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After Jare and Kiat took away fried rice in styrofoam boxes for lunch (a yet odder start to our back to basics nature trek),  we waited at the pier for a public boat to go down the Salawin River.

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This time there weren’t chickens but motorbike and children instead.

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The views were very beautiful as the river wound past lots of forested slopes, much more rugged and impressive than any other Southeast Asian river I’ve been on.

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It was also strange to look on the other side of the river: the Burmese side controlled by Karen rebels. It was dotted with little huts — outposts of the Karen army.

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