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Mae Sai/Tachilek Border Info

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I know of at least 4 internal border crossings - between Tachilek and the rest of Burma.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . located:

West, alonside the river. This one is interesting because it blocks access to a recreational river area about 2 Km further west. Too bad, because Tachilek's people and visiting farang could enjoy the area if it were accessible.

NW walking trail heading in to hills

North along gravel road , north side of deluxe golf resort

NE on main road to Chen Tung (sp?)

I've crossed them all, but only for small distances.

If anyone knows of others, please let me know. Anyone wanting to take a day trek on the hills NW of Tachilek, let me know. I'm familiar with the trails there.

Also, if anyone knows details about the large region in NE Shan, it might be interesting to hear about them. I heard somewhere that it's about as close to a wilderness area as can be found in SE Asia. What's the terrain like? Is it just hilly or are there also exposed rock faces?

Further afield, am curious about Burma's highest mountain, located in the very northernmost part of the country. Any news on that - whether it's completely off limits or just partially so. ....what it's like. Is is snow-peaked, etc.?

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If anyone knows of others, please let me know. Anyone wanting to take a day trek on the hills NW of Tachilek, let me know. I'm familiar with the trails there.

For free or for a modest fee?

I know tour guide is definitly banned for foreigners so it must be free.

When do we leave?

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If anyone knows of others, please let me know. Anyone wanting to take a day trek on the hills NW of Tachilek, let me know. I'm familiar with the trails there.

For free or for a modest fee?

I know tour guide is definitly banned for foreigners so it must be free.

When do we leave?

prostitution is banned in Burma and Thailand .....so it must be free, n'est-ce pas?

Seriously though, I ask basic expenses. Last time I took some people up there to walk around, the gas station (in Thailand) - mistakenly filled my petrol truck with diesel - my little trek guiding gig wound up costing me Bt.2,000.

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A standard border run carried out today, no waiting going in or out of Burma and the road block police waved us through without a second look.

Tachilek duty free giving away a can of Cheers beer with every bottle of spirits purchased.

I gave mine away to the maid when I got home.

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Straight forward visa run today. Light rain for most of the way but never got the wipers out of first gear.

One of the duty free shops, mentioned in another topic here, had three bottles of Australian wine for 500B. Cab Sav, and I've never heard of the brand.

I thought about them and decided a 3 liter flagon of Carlo Rossi Burgundy at 590B was easier to carry.

There appears to be an influx of new titles in the you know whats. I picked up several made in the '60s and '70s that I hadn't seen on DVD before.

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3 weeks ago, I presented a very nice looking $20 to border guards on Burmese side. They said they saw a flaw on one corner, I honestly couldn't see anything. I've had this problem with them before, and earlier times I was able to growl them into compliance. This time it didn't work. They said "the bank won't accept anything but perfect US bills."

I paid Bt.500 and went to the Tachilek bank at the corner of the tourist market. First I tried getting them to give me a more perfect $20 bill (right out of the Treasury Dept perhaps?), they didn't understand, even after I tried to explain several different ways. They kept saying, "you want Baht or you want Kaht?" For the heck of it, I changed the $20 in to Kaht. Not one of the smartest things I've ever done. Turns out, the Burmese turn their noses up at their own money. They'll accept it reluctantly. While comparing prices in Tachilek, I realized the bank had given me 1/3 value for the twenty bucks. I still have the 21,200 kaht they gave me, and I'm going to go back to the same bank and see whether they give me close to $20 back. Fat chance, eh.

On a more positive note, I went thru the border more recently, and a different officer took me to a different office and took my $20 without complaining. Though at first he insisted that he could only take Bt.500. I made some noise, saying the Myanmar gov't (I didn't say 'Burmese') ....officially says "either $10 US or Bt.500. The guard didn't argue.

Had a fine trip in Tachilek. The only blemish on the day was the ride back to C.Rai in a VIP bus. It's the fancy looking blue and white bus with the Mae Sai office off in the corner. Costs 60 baht (that's not problem). The problem was the bubble gum karaoke syrrupy saccarine-laced music blasting non-stop with TV monitors throughout.

Apparently there's a contest among Thai singers to see who can be the youngest, prettiest, least experienced singer - singing nothing but the most bland, repetitive, and banal music that a hominid could conjure.

Many farang pride themselves on going so native that they never need to find fault with the sugar and margarine on white bread pap that passes for Thai music. Good on you, mates. However, there are others of us out there in the big world - not just ornery farang like me, but also monks, and elderly, and lots of other Thai people who would never complain even if three fire alarms went off in their bedroom at 4 a.m.

Being a professional musician for most of my life (R&B, Jazz, blues) has made me particularly sensitive to sound. So it's particularly galling have wound up in a country where driveling music has to be mind-numbingly banal and loud.

I can almost hear it now, the cacaphony of farang voices quacking to complainers like me: "if you don't like it here, why the <deleted> don't you go back to your home country!" Interesting analogy. send a draft to my secretary and I'll review it when if gets to my desk.

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It seems the only Thai music that I enjoy is luuk thung.

I have to agree with you....this is a very music-challenged country in many ways.

In the recent Citylife magazine (Chiang Mai) a Brit teacher who lived here for years, who has relocated to Caracas, Venezuela, made much the same comment. His article listed all the things he missed about CM, and all the things he didn't miss.

He did not miss off-tune Thai derivative pop pablum, that's for sure. :o And he made a comment about the huge diversity of genuinely heartfelt music played by people with excellent musician skills, in many styles, flawlessly executed, in South America.

Not to say that there is not real, genuine music here....just that it doesn't get airplay, TV, radio time, or purchases by music aficionados. Part of it the the Thai music industry, that promotes boy hair bands over all others, and part is rampant piracy, that winnows out all the talented small bands, to the favor of the heavily-promoted who can get all the major product sponsorship packages, major concert venues, etc.

But I'm not leaving...still have 100 GB of music, and adding all the time!

OK, back on topic....so now the Burmese are really scrapping.....have to have perfect $10 USD bills. Good info to know for those planning an excursion!

Edited by mcgriffith
added clarification

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Brahms, buy an ipod or radio or a walkman or something/anything that you can plug in a set of earphones. Then you can enjoy your journeys in musical bliss. Thus enabling you to keep your blood pressure at an acceptable level. It may also keep your growling in check Rocket science it is not.

Cheers,

Chang35baht.

P.S. jazz sucks.

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I'd be curious to know if he got the USD in Chiang Rai. I'm off to Vientiane next month and need some for the VOA.

The money changers wouldn't part with theirs last time.

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Getting dollars in Chiang Rai is not easy - tho it is possible.

The Siam C. Bank (my bank) main C.Rai branch is usually no help ("all our dollars get taken away each evening") but their roadside service next to Boots downtown (just south of night bazaar entrance) is good. The gal there even lets me look through the bills on hand to pick the best looking ones. The bank of on corner of Soi Sanpanad and main road is ok, but most other banks and exchange outlets give a frowning "no."

Regardless of what currency traders have us believe, the dollar is coveted on the street - more than most other currencies.

I could possible get an ipod with a piece of plastic to stick in my ear, but that's playing music to try to drown out other sounds. Speaking for myself, as a musician/songwriter, perhaps I hear things that others don't, or that others can mentally dismiss. I've tried the earphone thing, and it doesn't work for me. It's about as effective as sniffing a flower in a Thai kitchen which is burning oil with hot peppers in it.

Thais consider themselves courteous, but there are many things they do rudely (particularly from a westerners' perspective) - and they appear not be aware of. There are a hundred things just related to driving that could be mentioned. But cranking annoying loud sounds (or allowing dogs to bark incessantly) is mega annoying to some people. It would be like entering a room full of people and spraying a strong smelling scent (burnt linen, for example). Everyone in that room would be subject to it, like it or not. In a bus (or train or shop, etc) people are essentially captive audiences.

How rude is it to subject elderly people and monks to hours-long durations of loud syruppy pop crappola music? It's about as rude as not slowing one's car to allow them to cross the road - which is also endemic here in Thailand.

When the PPP can take some time off from playing golf, jamming their mia noi, and changing the Constitution to avoid answering for their ineptitude, then perhaps they'll consider a Thai-wide campaign to show Thai people how to be considerate of others. I'm not holding my breath for that.

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the tiny imm office on the Tachilek side has an unfriendly guard in there. In a gruff voice he told me my $10 wouldn't suffice for visa fee, and insisted I could only pay Bt.500. I placed the $10 bill on the table and told him he's required to take it. He hesitated for a few moments, then grumblingly took it. A couple other minor glitches took place. He's probably came to Tachilek by way of being 'reassigned to an inactive post' sort of program for being naughty somewhere else - similar to Thailand's busy program of assigning scores of authorities to inactive posts every week.

As for the saga of the $20 ...... I took the original amount of Burmese khat (20,200) back to the same bank to see whether they'd change it back to dollars for me - and to see how much I'd get. I was interested to find the exchange rate back to dollarwas roughly the same as a month earlier: $17 and change.

I like the simple and cheap peanut flavored pastries available at tea shops. I've never seen a similar type of pastry in Thailand. Oh well, yet another reason for me to swing over to Tachilek once in awhile.

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Just want to check before I buy the bus ticket--is the border open? I've heard that sometimes flooding will close it, and it has been raining a lot lately. Thanks for any info.

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I've never personally known flooding to close the border. I've seen the car parks and river front restaurants under water but business as usual on both sides of the bridge.

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I was at Mae Sai, Tachilek last night and today. It rained mega hard most of the night (I know, because I couldn't sleep - for tiny ants in the bedding). Woke up b4 dawn and went out to re-park my PU truck - which was on the lower road parallel to the river (left of bridge). Walked back and saw, an hour later, 1.5 feet of river flowing along the road where my truck was parked.

Tachilek tourist market was inundated - all except the uppermost alley parallel to the main road. 1 foot of water also in front of MaeKong hotel there.

Burmese took it all in stride. Always a pleasant change for me to get out of Thailand once in awhile.

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