Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Border Crossings - Beneath the Law

Borders are tight in most parts of the world.  They've been tight for awhile and only today are they, well - tighter.  Actually, I've entered few countries in my travels where forms weren't required and passports not expected to be at ready.  There's always the stern looking officials.  But it's all in the presentation, some checkpoints are just a little more intimating than others and on the northern border of Thailand - the Burmese checkpoint was one of them.

Or so I thought.  But in that little village in Northern Thailand that butted up against Burma, borders took on a completely different meaning.  While officials manned an immigration point on a bridge that marked the border between Thailand and Burma, commerce thrived on both sides of the border.

Mae Sai, Thailand was bustling with people wanting to sell everything from cigarettes to t-shirts.  And on the other side of the bridge, for those a little more adventurous - Burma.  But no one was going there without filling out the forms, answering the questions and facing men dressed in military fatigues holding automatic rifles. 

No one that is except for one man who was desperately trying to sell us a t-shirt on the Thai side of the border.  When he had none in the size we wanted, he held up his hand.  Told us to wait in that universal sign language and bolted toward the bridge.  While people lined up or even debated whether crossing into Burma was a wise thing, our t-shirt salesman ran under the bridge, right underneath the immigration stop, crossed the border into Burma and within minutes returned back into Thailand with the correct size t-shirt in hand.

Daring to us.  Just another day at the office for him.  Anything daring in your day?

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