Thailand Day 4: Mae Sot & The Party Goes On

Three days of partying are starting to take their toll – thank God today is the last day of Thingyan! Yesterday afternoon a bomb went off in Rangoon and it wasn’t really until later into the evening that we had a clearer picture of casualties. Jackie had called me in the afternoon as her sister had been down there – thankfully she was fine, but many others weren’t – it seems 5 or so people have died. The bizarre thing is if I had stayed on in Rangoon I would have been in the exact area where the bomb went off… plus it was the exact location where I had bumped in to a General and his entourage on Monday afternoon. coincidence?… definitely food for thought in my book. Also last night I got the final confirmation from Andy Buncombe at The Independent that the big article about my work would run in the magazine next saturday on 24th April – plus U Win Tin on the cover (read more here). So there was a reason to really let the hair down last night and it went on late as usual… Aiya, Reggae bar, Khungs… all the usual places and all the usual fun with my little sister Nyi Ma Ei Ei and all her crew. So the final day of partying away at Aiya with everyone. I wish Jackie was here to enjoy it but we will have to make sure its on our schedule to be here next year if we can’t all be back in Burma to experience it for real. A quiet end to the evening with dinner in the night market with Thar Gyi and Aung Khaing Min. It’s been a well earned week of relaxation (with a splattering of work at times during the day… can’t keep the camera down for too long!) but it’s back to work on Sunday as we’re heading back to Umpiem Mai camp once more.

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Thailand Day 2: Happy New Year

Yesterday in Bangkok was very surreal – for a city that is vibrantly hectic 24 hours a day it was serene and silent as Thai New Year festivals got underway. Songkran’ in Thailand or ‘Thingyan’ in Burma is like no ordinary new year celebration where people just get drunk and party for one night. This is four days of hedonism and celebration all round and this is my first taste of it. But Bangkok was experiencing an altogether different sort of shutdown as the red shirt demonstrations seemed to have turned a different corner in the few days that I was out of the country. With tyre barricades now erected behind lines of bamboo poles I was glad to be heading out of Bangkok and back to Mae Sot where I could party with friends. Getting a bus was of course another trial altogether but so typical of Thailand… when i got to the counter at Mo Chit terminal there were no VIP bus seats left. No problem I’ll travel first or second… “one seat left in first” I was told. Ok… i’ll take it but how much? “No room now” I was told… “you go second class”… No point in arguing, even though the screen showed an empty first class bus – I just want to get out of this city as soon as possible. Thankfully I got the ‘last’ in second class (of course at the back right above the engine!!

Anyway those were the trials and tribulations of dealing with  Bangkok yesterday and now back here in Mae Sot it’s time to put my feet up for a few days and enjoy Thingyan with everyone else. Apart from a few hours work in the morning just catching up with some writing, emails and some images to be sent to certain people, the laptop and cameras stayed firmly in their bags – just as well as you cant walk more than 10 yards without having a bucket of water thrown over you! Headed down to Aiya in the mid afternoon to see who’s there and met up with Ei Ei and spend the rest of the day and evening partying away with Generation Wave and what felt like about a hundred other people packed into the bar – water everywhere – music pumping and beer almost cold. Happy New Year to one and all.

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