Where’s Burma Again?

Ingredients: Motorcycle, camera, and a few days a stone’s throw away from Burma…  Result: A good break from polluted Bangkok air, a new understanding of the word “refugee”, and a new ability to drive a motorcycle after clocking 250km of windy, mountainous border highways.

I snuck up north to Mae Sot this week with a few objectives —  investigating some new raw material sources for The Well’s sewing and jewelry business and photographing a friend’s knitting project with Karen refugees were two. Mae Sot is a town near the Burma border… (some might recognize it more easily as Rambo’s hometown).

About 60km north of Mae Sot is Mae La, the largest of the nine refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border estimated to have around 50,000 refugees that have fled Burma’s oppressive government.

The term refugee is one that I’m not sure I truly grasped it until I saw the camp and started putting together the puzzle pieces of “before, during and after” for these oppressed individuals. Too much for a blog post; Burma’s story is a story worth investigating and knowing for yourself. (For more info on Burma’s political situation, the Burma VJ documentary is a good start if you haven’t seen it already.)  But here are a few quick shots to give a glimpse of the Mae La camp.


I also spent some time in a small village another hour north of Mae La learning about a friend’s start-up knitting project (check out their hats at www.amfreekaren.org) and a local orphanage. This time we were literally a stone’s throw from Burma with the river providing our only separation, meaning we were carefully watched by the Thai police (and who knows who else) for most of our stay.  I left somewhat disturbed by the odd relationship between Thai border police and, likely, the Burmese officials who like to make sure nobody makes trouble or talks too much about what goes on on the Burma side of the border, or what “business” is conducted between the two countries at these crossings.

I’m fascinated by the Karen culture and that of the other Hill tribes along the border. The oppression they’ve endured is unspeakable but their language, culture and beauty is alive and well.  I felt honored to get to hang out with them for a bit and steal a few photos to share.  Here’s a snapshot of the colorful characters and scenery of “Noh Bo” and a sneak peak of Jaime’s knitting groups.






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  • Comments (1)
    • Miss Kirkpatrick
    • March 4th, 2011

    Cori! So exciting to read and hear about how you are doing. I can’t wait to order a hat from the knitting project. Please let me know if you guys have any other efforts as I would love to share with friends. Miss ya! God bless!

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