Q: Why did the volunteers cross the border from Mae Sot to Myawaddy?
A: To get some avocados from the other side*
In reality, we walked across the Friendship Bridge to Burma in order to activate the second 90-day tourist visas in our passports.
But the whole trip was so low hassle (and the least time I’ve ever spent doing a visa run) that it felt like we should have done more while being in another country for a whopping total of 1 hour. So I’m pretending we went over for avocados and avocado shakes.
We biked from our apartment in Mae Sot to the border (about 5 km), locked up our bicycles, got stamped out on the Thai side, then walked over to the Burmese side.
The officials took our passports for collateral and charged us 500 baht. The border office is only open from 6 am to 6 pm, and you’re not allowed to stay over or travel further into the country.
I kept asking Blake whether he was excited to be in Burma, but he just said it reminded him of Kathmandu. Uneven streets, red betel nut splotches covering the ground, and lots of honking – feels about right.
When we were finished with our avocado shakes, Blake bought 3 large avocados for 60 baht, stuck them in his backpack, and then we collected our passports and walked back out across the bridge.
Secretly I was hoping for some drama – maybe we weren’t allowed to bring fruit back in? – but nope, no hassle, no nothing.
On our way back across the Friendship Bridge, at first it seemed odd to me that we could see people still illegally boating across the river to come to Thailand… but then I remembered that it actually costs a lot of money to obtain a Burmese passport and a Thai visa. I would probably take my chances and do it that way, too, if I was in those circumstances. It’s a sensitive area to write/blog about though, so I’m going to just leave it at that!
In retrospect, instead of feeling uninspired by an uneventful border run, I’m just going to say that I feel grateful that it’s so easy for me to travel, live, and work in a country that isn’t my own. Grateful that I’ve got the time, money, and resources to border-hop, too.
And last but not least, I’m glad that I have the sense to not go tubing down the Moei – during our volunteer orientation, we were warned that someone (or perhaps more than one) had decided it would be fun to do so — but probably had a rude wake-up call when their visa was cut short! You’ve been warned.