Published: August 26th 2009July 19th 2009
After having a disagreement at Yangon airport with the woman collecting our departure taxes because she refused to accept any of our US$20 notes, I couldn’t wait to return to the sweet sound of Sawadee ka and the traditional wai Thai greeting. The Burmese government only accepts brand new, not ripped, crinkled or torn US notes which is almost impossible when you have been travelling for 2 weeks! However there seemed to be no problem in the country giving us their kyat notes which are all tattered, weathered and sticky taped together. Fortunately we were able to do a money exchange with another traveller in Baht who was waiting in line.
As much as I appreciated our Burma experience, the people especially, there were moments such as these that were frustrating and were reminders of how difficult the government makes it for travellers. While (clearly visible) examples of the junta’s brutal dictatorship were not as prevalent as what is reported in the states travellers are prohibited to visit, we still saw young children and women working on the roads with a military guard present, raising our suspicions about the issue of forced labour. Often when we spoke to locals it
was more what they didn’t say, then what they did say which gave us an understanding of what it was like to live under this regime.
I found it comforting to return to the “Land of Smiles,” the place that I have called home for nearly 9 months. I have a greater appreciation for freedom of information, expression and speech (everything that is except for the King). This was Matt’s first time to MHS and he could see for himself why I loved living here. We hired a car for 2 days and went to Pai and I took him to the places that I had visited earlier this year in February - Wat Phra Tat Mae Yen, Pai Canyon, Coffee in Love and we stayed at Pairadise. On this trip we also went to Mae Yen Waterfall and did a short self-guided hill tribe walk. In MHS I showed him around my town and Nat and P’Yong my two close friends (my Thai-Chinese sisters here) took us up to Ban Rak Thai where I had taken my parents in May. It was a relaxing way to finish off our holiday.
There are more photos below