Visiting Dodgy Sites

The Bigfella

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Aug 15, 2012
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There's a bit of discussion on the Facebook group about gaining permission before entering dodgy areas, etc. I was going to put this in the dodgy roads thread, but it's a bit removed from that - although on a similar theme.

Back in 2012, I was in Mae Sot, travelling around doing some photography with a young Polish photojournalist. The guy managing our guesthouse at the time was a young Burmese guy (getting paid 100 baht a day when the going rate for a Thai was 400). Nice guy. I won't show his face given the current situation but we had a couple of pissy sessions with him and his mates


His father and his grandfather had both been killed fighting the Burmese government - seeking self-determination for the Karen people. Things were a bit quiet and he said he'd organise for us to cross over to Burma for a bit of a look. He messaged the KNLA commander and got permission for us to enter. The Thai border patrol had a different view of the situation and we were told in no uncertain terms to not go across the river. Old mate even came down to the river and told a number of people there to call him if we tried. We didn't. Here he is issuing instructions for folks to call him.


It turns out someone had been arrested for illegal entry not too long before and it was a significant problem getting him out. So - be careful.

There was a lot of cross-border traffic going on, but it didn't include us


We went off to the rubbish dump to hand out some food to the refugees living and working among the rubbish. It was take your kid to work day....


I met up with another young lady from the USA who suggested I go and see the Buddhist monk Ashin Issariya (also known as King Zero) and get a letter of introduction from him to meet another of the three Burmese instigators of the Saffron Revolution of 2007 - known as Lin Lin, who was in the Nu Po (sometimes called Nu Pho) refugee camp. The third key instigator is U Gambira - who was sentenced to 68 years in jail (now in Australia as a refugee). So, whilst technically not a dodgy road, I was turning off a perfectly good road into a very dodgy refugee camp. There's lots I can't write about it... but it was an amazing experience. I went for a day trip - stayed a week (hey, turn your underwear every second day and its fine).... and I ended up with my first dose of Dengue Fever as a result - and that is very very dodgy stuff.

King Zero


I nicknamed the road down the KY Highway - I was sliding all over the place


More than one abandoned vehicle


The roads down from Mae Sot were the 1090 to Umphang and then the 1088 to the camp - which is just north of the end of the Missing Link.


The guards were cheery enough - read my letter of introduction and I was in


And the man himself


I also got to meet one of the Generals from the Student Revolution of 1987 aka the 8888 Uprising.... but that's stuff for a separate thread

The roads.....



It wasn't the safest place I've ever stayed. A tree came down in a storm, breaking the back of a guy in the next hut. Someone else was killed in the same storm


I did a lot of photography during the week


This lady had it tough. Kid's got spinal bifida



That camp had 18,000 refugees. After I'd recovered enough from the Dengue to ride again, I headed up the 105 towards Chiang Mai. I tried my luck with the big Mae La camp north of Mae Sot - the biggest of the camps in Thailand, with IIRC 40,000 refugees at the time.


I got in - but the guards chased me down and kicked me out

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