Posts tagged “border crossing

Backpacks in Southern Vietnam

cairong market

Cai Rong floating market at sunrise.

Traveling from Cambodia to Vietnam by bus is like going from Three Oaks, Michigan directly to Times Square without everything between. The minibus is packed with a mix of foreigners with their legs crammed against the seats in front of them and locals. We pick up and drop off several people along the way as the bus swims through a sea of motorbikes like a shark through a school of minnows, honking the whole way.

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Friends on a Friendship Bridge Roadtripping To a Place Called Mawlamyine

Mawlamyine2

A pagoda in the hills overlooking Mawlamyine and the Thanwlin River.

The driver is pussyfooting over the bumps in the road, I’ve just found a way to sit so my foot doesn’t go numb, and there is a guy seated in the middle of the two of us contorted in some way that I’m not able to comprehend. I’m trying to cut the guy some slack, crawling down this shitty road, the car packed full of things probably coming from the Thai border, and no lights except from cars. I’ve been traveling all day, and I’m ready to be at my hotel in Mawlamyine (colonial spelling: Moulmein).
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Contraband Whiskey, a Late Train, and Satellite Dishes

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A provincial train station along the way.

I am in the Thai border town of Pedang Besar, having crossed over from Pedang Besar, Malaysia. I’ve been directed down the road by a police officer to catch the bus to Hat Yai. As I’m walking past a large covered platform accommodating three large women, one of them asks, “Where you going?” I tell them and am told to sit down. This is the bus stop.

I am offered sliced papaya, which is delicious. They ask me if I speak Thai, and I respond in the negative. But that doesn’t stop them from speaking to me in Thai for the next ten minutes, giving stilted translations of what they’re saying along the way. I take out my phrasebook and pretend to study it.

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