Remembering FS2556 III: Mae Sot, Mae Sam Lat

*please credit if you wish to use any images, greatly appreciated ^^ 
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In this photo are my Songtiao buddies, we travelled everywhere together in the same vehicle, and it really made my journeys interesting, fun, enjoyable and more bearable (as we tackle motion sickness hehe)

we have officially ‘split up’ from our big group of 47 to the respective Humanoids (Human Geographers) and Physicoids (Physical Geographers).. then we will meet up in the last week.. and very much from this point on, the assignments we have will be focused on the different ‘genres’ of Geography!

presenting to you our main mode of transport: Songthaew or Songtiao as i would prefer to call them.. i don’t have my own nice shot of our Songtiao, so i will show one taken from the internet!

Songthaew/ Songtiao Credit: http://www.chiang-mai.org

yeap i must give a short introduction to these red vehicles! they are versatile, better than Jeep in my opinion because they really can go rounds and rounds up a mountain and the most important point is they can hold up to eight of our large backpackers’ haversacks!

another plus point of loving our Songtiao is also the team of uncles driving them, they are not our drivers! they are our teachers and they can do anything.. from driving a boat, cooking, fishing, carrying heavy loads and to of course driving these Songtiao for long hours and not look like they have motion sickness :O *thank you Pii-Songtiaos*
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a photo of other Songtiaos in our troop, this was taken from my seat in the Songtiao🙂 this time we were travelling from Sukhothai up North to Mae Sot.

when i look back at these photos and think of the people, i cannot help but have revelation that people do come into our lives for a reason (good and bad).. what i’ve learnt from every single Thai people i’ve met on this trip is to be sincere and genuine in how you treat people, it might not have any impact on yourself, but you surely will bring joy for others🙂

last but not least, that effect is a lasting and lingering effect.. as an artist once said: “anything that leaves a yearning is beautiful.”

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some wonderful and delicious coconut ice cream from a random stop on our way to Mae Sot. lunch stop was a good time knowing new people (i wasn’t close to a few Humanoids friends until we really got to spend time together over meals, travelling, projects and basically living together ^^)

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words from one of our Ajan (lecturer).. “we are experiencing calm before the storm”.. checking into our wonderful one-night accommodation in Mae Sot! after which we were given a trip down to Tesco Lotus, which would be our last for the entire trip…

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before dinner we went for some snacks inside Tesco Lotus and did some last minute shopping for any necessities that we wish to stock up.. we also had a snack, which is simply delicious: KFC Banana Chocolate Portugese Egg Tart😛

these simply melt in your mouth and fill it with banana goodness! Thailand really has a lot of really good and affordable food, some of my favourite snacks are Nori Seaweed Lays chips, Puriko Herbal Tea and my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE: Green Tea Cornetto! i really miss that ice cream when i came home, i even dreamt about it :O
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i like how the skyline becomes a pretty backdrop for these cables, there is some contrast (or maybe not).. but the skyline never fails to cheer me up~ this was taken outside Tesco Lotus ^^

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our dinner place in Mae Sot, it’s cowboy-themed and also our first official dinner as Humanoids team (with many more to come too!).. really enjoyed the company every single moment..

you know how sometimes with a big group of people one might think: i need a break from large group? with this team of friends, teachers, mentors i never had such a moment.. the wish that we never part was in fact always there❤

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after dinner we went back to our very nice rooms for a good rest and of course our Songtiao started our adventures together.. first up: Mask party ^^

this was bought in Tesco Lotus and cost about 45 baht for a packet of two.. it warms up upon contact with your skin and really clears my blackheads! i hope Singapore has this, but it’ll probably cost a lot more…

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umm.. i hope this is small enough (mask up unglamness).. collage of our Songtiao’s mask party together.. hehe everyone had clear and clean skin the next day!

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the next day was another trip and lesson about Borders (we have more border lessons after this too).. this time we are brought to the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border.. it is the second official land border (with bridge crossing) between Thailand and Myanmar.

i guess even non-Geographers would know that borders serve important functions and as a landscape it is easy to observe these functions too.. they are also imbued with meanings and also geopolitical significance..

this particular border strike to me as serving important economic functions, where Burmese workers can cross into Mae Sot for work on a daily basis or periodically.. but their movement would be confined within a particular area only.. the photo above shows how busy the border actually is.
IMG_5852another observation, these employment agencies in Mae Sot probably have support functions for incoming Burmese workers and also employers in Thailand.. and it is particularly obvious and prevalent in Mae Sot.

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yeap the check-point is as shown in the photo, it is vastly different from the Causeway or Tuas checkpoint Singapore has with Malaysia.. and i will explain more about the unofficial border~

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we met a local Burmese-Thai guide and this is an example of a temporary borderpass.. he is just a person whom our Ajan Carl befriended. initially we asked: who is that random stranger?

we were taught a life lesson here, Ajan Carl said, “nobody is ever random.” and him befriending this person proved a point, that you can make friends anywhere if you try🙂 so he became our impromptu guide into Myawaddy, and his service is FOC!

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and… introducing River Moei, this river lies beneath the official check point. and every landscape has a certain function, so what is its function? it is the unofficial border. yeap some Burmese would cross into Thailand without the official documents and they usually go back on a daily basis.. they usually sell goods in Thailand (just on another bridge below the official one).. well this is what i would be willing to share, for more information refer to academic papers written by Dr. Carl Grundy-Warr ^^

sometimes there really isn’t a distinction between  black and white, and who is to say what is right or wrong? on FS i’ve learnt an important lesson, don’t be judgemental and be open to things and events..

the environment i grew up in does not really expose me to these grey areas very often, and therefore as a bystander with no actual experience or knowledge, i will not comment if it’s right or wrong.. although personally, i would think it is all for the sake of livelihood and that becomes a factor shaping different courses for things.

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another photo of our official border crossing before we have to keep our cameras at the checkpoint ^^

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and we’re in Myawaddy, Myanmar.. this particular town is really a typical city i guess, different industries can be seenand the streets are just busy and bustling; except it’s different from our typical office-dominated city-centre.

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before leaving for lunch, we took a trip to the unofficial border’s bridge.. we see dried goods and some contraband products being sold there.. they actually sell the same type for each stall, sometimes i can’t help but wonder how sustainable is this?

our next stop is to Mae Sam Lat, where we get to experience a different kind of borderscape (border landscape).. and off we go on our Songtiao!

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a view of passing rice fields from the Songtiao🙂 i really enjoy travelling on the road cos i get to see so many different places! btw, we were suppose to reach Mae Sam Lat National Park by nightfall…

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an oh no, because the journey there is too long we only reached the river around evening and hence we couldn’t take the boat into the National Park, cos there will be pirates at night! in addition, we are in a small village by the Salween River🙂

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when we’re delayed and unsure of how things will go, we take a selca! with my pretty friend, she can never have a bad angle and of course she is already attach in case you are wondering… hehe

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more selfies.. i title this photo: the prince and princesses of selfies!

i won’t go into details how we go into the Mae Sam Lat National Park, cos it will take me one day to share the full story.. but it has been an adventure of a lifetime and also a test of our mental strength and also proved how bonded we can be❤

so we stayed there for three nights, and since it’s a park it’s naturally infested with different creepy crawlies.. i think our tolerance level suddenly increase and almost everyone had some form of insect attack.. no assignments here, just some trekking, bonding activities and observation of our surroundings~

the food btw… is DELICIOUS😀

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fast forward, this is a morning shot of the Salween River on our last day.. and across the river is Myanmar where mainly the Karens reside in.. the geopolitical history and situation in Myanmar is really interesting, which i think is also good to know..

it puts things into perspective, how close two countries can be and makes you think about the functions of landmarks around and along the border hmmm? and there is actually a film titled “Salween” taking place in the same location, of course an action film with subtle political meanings imbued within.
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on the boat rider back to the border village, we are on our way to Baan Rak Thai! the bost ride is actually very enjoyable ^^ breezy and calm, not something i get to experience often~

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our group on a single boat, everyone is looking forward to Rak Thai! hehe cos’ it will be a different environment and the place serves as our base camp for about two weeks!

IMG_5936one last photo of boats and village… i think a single post has to be dedicated to Ban Rak Thai apart from another post about our trip from West to East of Thailand (this was slotted in between our stay in Rak Thai).. more great journeys ahead😉

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