STAND IN LINE WITH THE MONKS
SHWEDAGON PAGODA provides another photographic opportunity for an amusing picture. Just join the line of monks at the back and your friends will have a chuckle when you go back home. I hope that this is not too disrespectful for the locals but i did ask before clicking the camera.
MONKS, MONKS and more MONKS
You will have a much better chance of photographing monks in Myanmar than its neighbouring countries as there are so many more of them. You will see them, young and old around town carrying their clay alms pots. Buy some packets of noodles and give it to them, instead of just taking a photo.
We came across this temple compound near the small local market, around 500 m from the main roundabout (turn left) which you come to when you cross the bridge from Thailand. The novice monk seemed to be cleaning the vases which hold flowers , but unfortunately we were unable to communicate with him at the time.
YOU WILL NOT SEE HAMS ON THE STREET BACK HOME
One thing i was surprised to see was hams hanging in front of a shop along the street. What was even more surprising was the shop did not appear to sell any other items which could be eaten, but looked more like a supply store of some sort.
CHAT TO THE STUDENTS
While wandering around Tachilik we saw a several places where students were learning English. They were being taught privately in small rooms by the side of the road or in someone's house. Although English is spoken quite widely here the students are eager to improve their language skills with the country opening up more and more to tourism. The students, although a little shy will be pleased if you have the time to talk to them, especially about your own country.
GREAT ADVERT for GRAND ROYAL WHISKY
I came across this tarpaulin advertising the number 1 selling whisky in Myanmar, and along with Myanmar Rum and Mandalay Rum they are the three most popular spirits in the country. In terms of alcohol content it would be cheaper to drink whisky than beer. Tourist will be able to buy a bottle of Whisky much, much cheaper than back home, and often by the entry and exit points between Myanmar and Thailand you will see locals trying to sell it.
CITY of the GOLDEN TRIANGLE ROUNDABOUT
Once you cross the bridge at Mae Sai, if you continue past the market along the same street you will come to a roundabout, in the middle of which is a sign indicating that Tachilik is the City of the Golden Triangle.
This is an important landmark in the city (or town) and if you take a left you will pass by a few small restaurants and eventually come to a small local market on the right.
If you turn left, then after 30 m take a right up the hill you will eventually arrive at the Meditation Center which will be on the right. Opposite the Meditation Center there will be a path that will take you up the hill to a stupa where you can have wonderful views of the surrounding area.
If you want to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda take a right at the roundabout, walk 600 m, then a left and you will find this wonderful pagoda after another 400 m.
SEE THE WEAVERS
If you want to see how the Longnecks weave their clothes and fabrics take a tuk-tuk to Regina Hilltribe Village, or if you have time walk across the golf course to get there. The Lonkneck women will be busy weaving their colorful fabrics and you can buy directly from them.
MR. AUNG MYINT MYAT
Who is Mr. Aung Myint Myat? Well you can find him if you turn right at the major intersection after coming across the bridge, head eastwards along the main road (1.5km?) until you reach the hospital, then take the next left, go up a few blocks, and just before you reach the end of the road you will see Aung's establishment on the right. He is an expert on palmistry and astrology as his sign says. However he won't charge much for his services and it is up to you if you believe him or not. My wife did!!!!
If you leave the local market on the northern side, turn right on the road, a few metres later you will pass over a small bridge, then immediately on the left will be a small compound with a temple inside and several spirit houses where you will find locals making their offerings such as fruit, drink and money. It's very interesting to see the locals pray while holding their incense sticks in front of these small spirit houses. Inside the temple is a large Buddha where people also leave their offerings.
THE LOCAL MARKET
A walk round the local market is interesting but can be very muddy if it is the rainy season. This is mainly a market for the locals to purchase their every day needs and is very colourful and you will see very few foreigners there. . Be careful as porters rush around with baskets and boxes delivering them to the stalls. Good for photography. Try the dragon fruit if you see it for sale--it's delicious.
visit the stupa
If you pass through the grounds of the Peace Golden Land Nunnery (ask permission first) you will come to a set of steps which you can follow for 15 minutes and you will eventually reach a small road which will lead you to the top of a hill where a stupa is being constructed and you will be able to have a magnificent view of Mae Sai and Tachilek. The chief monk was very friendly and eager to talk. The climb up there takes 30 minutes and is quite energetic, but worth the effort.
It is interesting to visit the temple where one can meditate. It is run mainly by the nuns and accepts visitors in their apartment block, most visitors are form Thailand and come for one or two weeks meditation and can stay there free of charge (meals also) but most give a healthy donation when they leave. We were also invited to return at a later date to meditate. We chatted to the head nun who led us in to the meditation temple where people stood or sat motionless in deep meditation, some won't move a muscle for hours. Never having sen people meditate i found this quite interesting. I believe the temple was located at Peace Golden Land Nunnery.
When you enter Tachilek there are foto copied maps available for 10 baht which will show you all the tourist sites.
SHOP AT THE MARKET
As soon as you cross the bridge into Tachilek turn right and you will be in a huge marker selling all kinds of goods from Thailand and China, many fake brands, groceries, alcohol, bags, anything you can think of. It is the same products that are available on the Thai side, usually priced in Baht, as are most things in this town. The prices seemed to me to be about the same on both sides of the river, but bought a new day backpack for what i thought was a cheaper price. If you are not looking for something specific and you have already visited the Thai side i suggest you give this a miss. Anyway when you enter Thailand there is a box of goods on display informing you that they are contraband and will be confiscated!! but what to the Thai authorities think all the people are carrying in their bags, as it seems everything for sale at the market is prohibited to take back across the bridge.
Note, i still have the backpack 3 years later and use it often----good quality even if it is a fake North Face
We went to visit the long necks who are located at the upmarket Regina Hotel by the golf course. To enter you pay an entrance fee, can't remember how much it was but i thought it was a little expensive because once you are on the premises the representatives from the long necks and Akha are all located in souvenir shops on the side of some steps leading to the top of a hill where there is a building where we were promised that we would be able to watch to them dancing, but it wasn't to be as they would only dance if there were enough tourists. We spoke to some of the long necks but it was obvious that the older women were part of the tribe but the younger ones were just girls employed to imitate the long necks for commercial purposes. I tried to look carefully at the rings round their necks but they were partly covered by a cloth, i was pretty sure they would be removed after their day's work. As Soon as you cross the bridge from Mae Sai the tuk-tuk drivers will try and encourage to take you to see them, about 5 kms from the bridge. We walked then found some teenagers who took us across the golf course on their motorbikes. Many people advise against seeing the Longnecks but i certainly enjoyed their friendship, but whether all the money from the stalls goes to them, i doubt it!