Chiang Mai One of the more interesting, and surprising, things we found ourselves watching with interest was the porous border crossing on the Moei River between Thailand and Burma. The bridge was lightly trafficked above us as we saw an occasional foreign couple or straggler walking over, but beneath the bridge in the fast moving water an informal ferry service was constantly busy taking people and their shopping bags across the river using giant truck inner tubes the likes of which I had not seen since time spend on the water in New Braunfels or across the lake in Louisiana years ago.
The tuber would load up to six passengers perched on top of the tube dangling feet in the water and would then drape his body over the side of the tube and launch off from the shore. Furiously dog paddling across with the current they would all make their way diagonally across to the other side and come to rest against the concrete moorings of the bridge where they would alight and scramble dryly up the river bank.
On the Burma side they would go up to a mass of sand bags around a gunner’s turret, pay a fee, and go on their way. On the Thai side they were watched by three desultory guards from the levee’s height and allowed to freely move into Mae Sot.
The river supported two tubes working fulltime while we were there. A group would be offloaded on one side and then the boatman, if I could call him that, would walk along the path of the river the 50 meters or so to the staging area under a tree below us to pick up the next set of passengers to Burma. The same system prevailed on the other side though there were fewer travelers it seemed heading for Thailand.