Finally there’s something happening about visa-on-arrival from Thailand by land. The authorities are now working on it, although we don’t know yet when this will actually happen.
Myanmar is also relaxing some rules and regulations that will allow tourists to enter the country by either land or air. The authorities are also planning to issue visas on arrival at the Myawady-Mae Sot border for visitor who wish to travel to Myanmar overland from Thailand.
The Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra will visit Mae Sot soon:
[...]aimed at following up on the formation on a special economic zone.
Mayor of Mae Sot municipality Terdkiat Chinsaranant has held a meeting with related agencies within the province to prepare for her visit in June.
The cabinet earlier this year agreed to develop the district into Thailand’s first special economic zone in a bid to support border trade with Myanmar and respond to the formation on the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
Following the cabinet approval, the Interior Ministry has set up a working panel to oversee the development and has spent over 15 million baht to draft the master plan. The highlights of the plan include constructing a Thailand-Myanmar friendship bridge and immigration control complex in Tak as well as setting up a one-stop service center for processing trade and immigration documents.
By the time the project is completed, more than 10 billion baht will have been invested in the new economic zone.
Ranong is Thailand’s largest border gateway to Myanmar – and according to the article “Ranong Rising” it allows for cheaper movement of goods than via Mae Sot.
Thin Lei Win (@thinink) has published an article about the problems gay people face who in refugee camps in Thailand.
“Every day we’re verbally abused but it doesn’t stop there. Sometimes the people at the camp would forcibly take off my trousers in the middle of the road.
“You would think the people around would take pity and help. No way. They’d support these bullies, saying it’s only if they keep doing things like this that we’d be shamed into changing our sexual orientation.
“We spoke to UNHCR – the United Nations refugee agency – but because I’m not registered with the U.N. they can’t do anything effective.
“Most gays in the camp have no homes because their families kicked them out. A non-governmental organisation said they’d find us a house. That was in 2011 and we still haven’t got a house. The problem is communities don’t want gays living among them.
You can read the full article here.
Around 20 gold shops in Mae Sot are closed. With the gold prices so low, people keep running into the stores wanting to buy gold – but for many stores, the losses are simply too big if they sell at this price, because they bought the gold at higher prices. So now they’ve closed store, but one can’t help but wonder what will happen with these stores if the gold price stays low for a couple of months?
The Mae Sot hospital is actually quite a good hospital, especially if you consider how remotely it is located and how small the town of Mae Sot is.
The staff is very attentive, and they do have doctors who can speak English well.
This is a private hospital, and the prices are pretty reasonable. When you come here and you want to make an insurance claim later on, it’s important that you get a medicial certificate. This is what you will then later give to our insurance company to collect your claims – but first you must pay for the treatment out of your own pocket.
Phone: 055-531-229 or 055-542-337
Fax: 055-533-046 or 055-542-735
Website: http://www.maesot-hospital.com/ (Thai language only)
A great place to visit in Mae Sot is Borderline. It’s a little gallery, women’s collective, shop and tea house which opened up in 2004 and sells handicrafts produced by refugee and migrant women. It’s an enterprise with a social idea: to help migrant women supplement their income.
It’s also a great place to learn about Burmese food, culture, history and politics, and to buy locally produced products (most of it naturally dyed organic cotton textiles).
There are also art exhibitions, cooking classes, weaving classes, and art classes.
The co-founder of Borderline came to Mae Sot in 1997. Sylvia Lin from Taiwan was working with Burmese refugees in the fields of education and social service back then. This is how she got in touch with the Karen Women’s Organisation and other groups that sold local products.
Lin then came up with the idea of creating the collective – combined they could market their products better and reach out to the public in a more visible way.
The products they create are made out of traditional materials, but they are created for people from everywhere – it’s a nice combination of old traditions and modern life.
So you can get a Burmese patterned laptop bag made out of organic cotton, handbags, shoes, clothing and so on.
Website of the Borderline Collective: borderlinecollective.org
Source: The Australian
Two teenagers from Scotland, Liam Burnett and Daniel Spiers, went on a 951 mile bike trip and used this opportunity to raise money for All You Need Is Love UK, a charity which secures an education for the thousands of children of migrant Burmese workers in Mae Sot on the Thai/Burma border.
Thank you Liam Burnett & Daniel Spiers
Read the rest of the story here:
Currently there is just one bridge that serves as a connection between Myawaddy (Burma or Myanmar) and Mae Sot (Thailand).
The new one will be bigger and have a higher capacity (supporting vehicles up to 60 tonnes).
The location is 3 miles away from Myawaddy town, and north of the currently existing bridge (which leads to the 105 Thai highway and was inaugurated in 1997).
The old bridge will remain open and in use, the new bridge is simply an addition to allow for greater traffic with heavier vehicles.
Governments are withdrawing funding from many border camps in the Mae Sot region – this is a problem, because help is still much needed, even despite the political progress in Myanmar.
Amnesty International has drawn attention to this problem, read more here.