Sunday, May 11, 2014

En route from Kanchanaburi, Thailand, to Dawei, Burma (Myanmar)

Myanmar-Thai border crossing at Phu Nam Ron
People say it’s possible.  Even the sohngtaeou driver trying to convince me to go with by sohngtaeou taxi rather than by bus.  I have a single bent $100 bill and I’m convinced that’ll get me at least to Dawei, where they have ATMs.  Allegedly.  If they don’t, I’ll be stranded in Dawei, penniless and alone.

But the taxi driver keeps trying to convince me to go with him instead.  It’s more expensive, I say.  He gives me a Thai proverb I don’t know:  if you think expensive, then it’s expensive.  If you think cheap, it’s cheap.

It sounds like Thai taxi driver logic, to help me break out my pocketbook, but I bet he’d stop at the bank for me so I could exchange more baht into American money.  But then I’d lose the exchange rate twice, so I’m betting on the ATMs in Dawei.  I’ve been back and forth on this decision since Bangkok.  I have no idea what the exchange rate from the ATM will be.

This feels foolhardy to me but also Christlike, going in with nothing, never mind that I have my budget for the month safely resting in a bank account.  I always find some way to agonize, some way to be paranoid and anxiety-ridden.  Confident travel writers would constantly explain their decision in advisory bulleted points:

1.  Bring some Thai baht, but not too many!  You’ll get a horrible exchange rate of baht to kyat.
2.  Bring a percentage of your budget as untouched dollar bills from the US.
3.  Trust local ATMs, now confirmed on the VISA website and reported reliable, for the rest!

Sounds good, right?  If only I believed it.

So now I embark on the bus, driving up the mountains and over, towards the border, into the unknown.

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