My knuckles turn white as I grip the bar on the roof and nod to the three men standing beside me. It’s a cool January morning as we slowly drive past the Mae Sot Police Station. I look down at my feet to make sure I’m securely standing on the tailgate.
The sawngthaew (a covered pick-up truck with two lines of benches) slows and we turn south towards the village of Umphang. I bend down to stretch my back and see twenty-five woman, children and old men sitting or laying on two small bench seats.
An old Burmese man in his sarong-style longyi looks up and smiles. A woman breast-feeds her infant and a young girl with tanaka powder (a decorative powder made from crushed Tanaka root), painted in two large yellow circles on either cheek, stares with dark eyes towards my partner, Lyndal. My partner’s blue eyes look out of place.
The full article appeared in Thailand’s Untamed Travel Magazine in September, 2006.