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Inglorious Travels Posts

A border report (Mae Sot)

I can’t exactly point out the moment when I was taken with Mae Sot, a small boomtown on the border of Thailand and Burma. Maybe it was on the evening on my arrival, after traveling on an empty yet remarkably modern highway in the mountains and stumbling upon parking lots filled with music and joyful people. Or maybe the next morning, when I rode my bike the wrong way for kilometers on a busy street, and instead of hearing “You farang, learn to drive!” I was greeted…

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Bridging the worlds of Sangkhlaburi #2

On my final evening in Sangkhlaburi, I pay a visit to Jimmy, and American expat who has lived in Thailand for more than 30 years, quite renowned in the region for his humor and advice. “They all come to me on their last evening and then regret it,” he welcomes me. His restaurant stands out among the tourist traps on Sangkhlaburi’s main street because of the many book shelves and a CRT television playing pop-rock…

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Bridging the worlds of Sangkhlaburi #1

“If you want, I jump in water now,” a sixteen-year-old Mon boy in denim shorts says to me as we both look down at a river 40 meters below us. We are on the Mon Wooden Bridge, the longest wooden bridge in Thailand (400 meters) and an emblem of Sangkhlaburi, as it connects the Thai and Mon sides of the village. It is still quite dark, the stars visible in the sky, fog rising out…

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Riding with the locals

Once the Thai-Burmese border became the next target of my trip, I learned to look for platforms filled with locals in major bus terminals or for small bus stations near marketplaces. It was after the experience in the crammed, heavily air-conditioned and dangerously fast mini-buses of Southern Thailand that “VIP bus” became something to avoid rather than take comfort in. Nothing to see there other than the driver honking incessantly and the other passengers, all…

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Mornings on the river Khwae

Not many travelers make it to Thong Pha Phum, a sleepy town on the Khwae Noi River (a.k.a. the river Kwai), where I stopped on my way to Northern Thailand. A straight giveaway is the absence of a Latin script to double the Thai one, like in most other places, which is why on the evening of my arrival it took me almost one hour to find something to eat. Without a common language for…

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Frustration and diamonds in Bangkok

7:30pm, Bangkok, Sukhumvit Road, one of the city’s major arteries. I’m in the front right part of a bus that looks like a pierced tin can on wheels. Three Indian men, most likely tourists, squash me against the bus window while they show each other photos. At my feet, a Thai woman in business clothes sits on a tiny plastic chair, a makeshift seat, and I can get a good view of everything she’s doing…

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