Thailand, February 2011
1 month, with Max
because I want to travel beyond the sea…
Thailand, first big Trip… acclimatized in Bangkok, a bit exhausting but not badly, no interest in »golden Buddha« and all that tourist stuff we passed. we just wander through the streets of the city…
a few days later we went on to Kanchanaburi - kids in the train are funny and teach me the names of the animals we can see outside and which sound they make. in Kanchanaburi we are not the only backpackers, who bury their nose in their Lonely Planet to look for hostels. it´s a nice place but not much to do.
move on to the north, Mae Sod.
we read that there´s a refugee camp…
maybe we could have a look?
it´s for refugees from Burma.
hard to say if we can visit - we didn´t request a permission (3 months waiting time)
small city, but a lot of tourists - but those who seem to stay.
while wandering around we lost the fun in walking by foot; because we´ve come very far from the city center the police catches us up and drives us to a scooter renting company close to our hostel. great.
the man there looks at me with big eyes and even bigger ones at my camera. why do we want a scooter? well… we want to go further than possible by foot. where? uhm, well, actually we want to see that refugee camp. just for a look. sceptical sight on his face. irritable he asks what´s the best time to take good pictures - morning or evening but defenetly not during sundrenched lunch. yes, of course. he closes both doors to his office and sits down again looking at us. so… we can not simply go into this refugee camp and take pictures. that´s not possible. and there´s no way to take pictures of it from outside. uhm. ok. but he would be delighted if someone takes pictures. in certain circumstances such pictures can help to change the circumstances. that would be a good thing. in two days someone he knows will drive to the camp with a monk. he will organize that we can joyn in. his son will bring us to the meeting point.
a bit mysterious, but, yes, this easy. why his son drives with us such an inconvenient way we don´t know. he shows us where to stop and wait and goes on without a word - a point on a big street which you defenetly reach easier on another way. so, here we are, waiting for that guy with the monk. ok. short time thinking: is this a joke? do we find the way back? oh, great, there he is! passes us first but comes back. Markus is from Austria - but we talk english most time because of the monk. both guys are very funny. I hold myself back - women shouldn´t even sit next to a monk, let alone to touch one. during the day I learn that this behavior is most likely for the locals - monks are therefore open minded.
in the camp we are very friendly received. differently from what you might imagine: pass the military border posts holding machine guns and you find yourself in a little fenced in village with refugees standing around in front of the wall of bamboo sticks waiting for something to happen, or someone to visit who they know and can beckon towards themself - like us.
we go there a second time - and stay overnight. more by accident then on purpose. when we ask for the last bus (we didn´t go by scooter) I say in the meaning of a joke, we won´t miss that one but if we would simply stay overnight - well. now it was fixed. the bus at 4pm? no, this one doesn´t drive today… the last one was at half past 2 I think… well, sorry. ok. but cool anyway - just unprepared as we are it is not that great. it turns very cold at night in the mountains of Mae Sot… and you gonna wake up very early in the morning (or late at night? - 4am) but: best breakfast ever! and the moslim coffe from the moslim corner of the camp - great. the shower in the »backyard bathroom« i passed - cold water from a tan - thanks, next time.
we go on around with markus the next days a few times, a great guy - meantime at travels again?! - he accompanied us to a school for burmese kids, whos familes live in Thailand. here they learn english. and they love being captured by camera. and they don´t got tiered by heat.
in this short time I was wandering around the camp and gather impressions I got the feeling that to be bored all day is the main problem for those people - or did they got used to? A former chemistry professor looks wistfully over the roofs of the camp and tells us that there is not much to do for him here - who is he to teach chemistry? And why? And especially how?
there´s a library, first at all they shall learn english - no one knows where to go »next«
this camp exist´s since more than 30 years, many people are here since the beginning, the kids are born here.
Thailand is a great country to visit. if you look for an interesting city you can go to Bangkok for more than a few days, interesting villages with even more interesting markets you can find all over the country. holiday on the beach? nowhere easier than in Thailand and it´s islands.
more Pictures (for example the camp) you can find on my homepage www.juliabergmeister.com