Monday, August 28, 2006

On the Frontier

At the Burmese border. Half of us are paying 250 baht for the privilege of crossing. I can’t see the point myself.
For virtually the first time this trip, I feel a little hungry. I was going to have an ice-cream, but Lien persuaded me it’d be bad for my sore throat. Dunno, though.
Bugger it. Bought a chocky ice-cream.
That triggered an old lady beggar to come up and start hassling me. I didn’t give her anything, though. I don’t like being poked and prodded.
“People are extraordinarily rude today,” said Caroline earlier, after our run-in with the leathery Englishwoman + statuesque daughter who accosted us, begging for a lift to the frontier. “‘Is that a public bus? Can we go with you?’ rather than, ‘Would it possibly be conceivable for you to dream of allowing us to …?’”

Agreed to take a picture of a guy with his trophy girlfriend: young, svelte Asian girl in tight red top and black trousers; older Anglophone greyhead (50’s?) in black jeans and blue shirt. She looks peevish; he happy. One invents little scenarios in one’s head.

The monks here almost never look cheerful. They scowl or look sullen or blank – especially the ones in the slightly muddier orange robes coming over from Burma (Myanmar). A frontier is a strange place. The Zone. Like the apotheosis of tourist transience, only on a permanent basis. The DMZ.

Time for more wandering. I’m getting sunburnt, I fear. They’re playing the theme from Indiana Jones in the tuk-tuk [= cheap-cheap] taxi-rank. Some tourist behind me is recording his own quacking voice on a camcorder.

Watched a little fender-bender in the car-park. Desultory movements of the mind.

A woman comes out of a shop with a plastic chair for me to sit on. Good business, no doubt, but nevertheless exceptionally considerate of her, I thought.

Darren bargaining for a jacket.
Vendor: “300”
Darren: “100”
V: “[snort] – 280”
D [to Tracy]: “She’s not serious if she won’t come down by 50”

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