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Posts Tagged ‘borders’

Some reflections and memories from my continued travels. A busride to Kuala Lumpur, truly luxurious, three seats to a row and a bunch of Punjabi tourists on their way to Malaysia. These wealthy Indians give us a window back into the chaotic, happy-go-lucky ways of privilege on the subcontinent. They tell us we are friends, siblings, in-laws. Laughs. Offering to sharing every food or drink. They proudly announce their religious diversity: Sikhs, Hindus.

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We have much catching up to do! Check out our freshly updated travel map, and read on to hear about the adventures we’ve been having.

We cross the border into Laos on a longboat. As we wait for visas, an immediate paradox for communism in today’s world: lowest fees are charged for entry of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Cubans, but all must pay in USD.

Leaving Thailand, standing on the launch pad for Laos.

The Lao border town of Huay Xai is quiet and comfortable. We relax on the guesthouse roof watching candle-driven paper lanterns drift into the heavens from a nearby hilltop wat (temple). Music and a DJ’s voice blare. There is some kind of Sunday night party going on. We are welcome, the guesthouse proprietor tells us. Just climb the steps up the hill; the full moon party is happening to raise funds for the monastery. (more…)

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A friend tells me it’s like the ‘wild west’ – the Thai outpost of Mae Sot, a small city situated along the border with Burma’s Karen state. In 2008 the General Secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU) was assassinated here while perched upon the balcony of his residence. Burmese spies, representatives from various ethnic factions, illegal immigrants, and a wealth of western NGO workers and Human Rights activists populate this town. A simple desire to view this ‘NGO’ town (and more) takes us here. NGO workers were drawn to Mae Sot over 25 years ago following an influx of Burmese refugees as a result of Myanmar military offensives against the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). There is certainly an NGO industry here.

Mae Sot

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This is just a quick sketch of one out of countless weird situations we have experienced on our trip. From tribal Shillong, Meghalaya, we crossed into Bangladesh via Dawki, a small border town that is rarely visited by foreign travelers. To my chagrin, there were a couple moments along the way in which I thought it would be suggested, for convenience sake, that we become part of the problem — that is to say: pay a bribe.

Indian coal trucks waiting to cross into Bangladesh.

As we dropped into the local police station with our packs, in the dark, we were asked to take a seat. We needed to be there in order to procure permission to stay the night in the “Inspector’s Bungalow,” the only accommodation available for guests in Dawki, and we were unsure of what this process would require. (more…)

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