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A little bit of Myanmar without leaving Thailand

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If you can't afford to fly to another country for your vacation this year, the border town of Mae Sot offers a glimpse of Myanmar at a fraction of the price. 


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Travel Feature

Little Myanmar

Mae Sot offers a taste of Myanmar, without crossing borders
9/08/2012

Mae Sot in the western province of Tak is a laid-back town where you can enjoy slow travel by riding a bicycle to explore the many attractions.

The influence of Myanmar culture in the town makes it all the more enchanting.

Mae Sot is a border outpost and separated from Myanmar by the Moei River.

People often use the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge or take a short ferry ride to cross into each country.

On Wednesday, local authorities of both countries will hold a ceremony to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the friendship bridge. To commemorate the occasion, authorities on both sides have discussed the possibility of allowing visitors from Thailand to explore more cities in Myanmar, in addition to Myawaddy, which is located on the other side of the river.

For a long time, Mae Sot has been home to ethnic groups such as the Karen, Hmong and Lahu, as well as Myanmar migrant workers. It is estimated that more than 100,000 Myanmar people live in the town and work in factories, on construction sites and in the hospitality business. Many shops also have signs written in Myanmar language.

Apart from traditional dress, another easy way to spot people from Myanmar is to check out their faces. Women and children love to apply thanaka , a yellow cosmetic paste made of ground thanaka bark. People from Myanmar believe that applying thanaka keeps their skin cool and smooth.

Mae Sot is known as a trading outpost for gems and teak imported from Myanmar. In addition, cooking ingredients like fresh or frozen shrimp, seasonings, agricultural and factory products are also traded. It is estimated that the trade value between the two countries is as high as 30 billion baht a year. This source of income is also a major contributor to the economy of Mae Sot.

Wandering around the town, you will notice several Myanmar-style temples. Among them are Wat Chumphon Khiri, noted for its golden pagoda built in the style of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon; Wat Thai Wattanaram, which houses a reclining Buddha built in the style of Myanmar; and Wat Manee Phraison, which houses more than 500,000 Myanmar-style seated Buddha images inside its praying hall.

Another highlight is Wat Phra That Doi Hin Kew, a forest temple which has a golden pagoda built on top of a gold-painted rock over a cliff. The style resembles the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda, the iconic marvel built on top of the famed Golden Rock in Myanmar's Mon State.

Foodwise, there are several ready-to-eat Myanmar dishes offered by vendors at a morning fresh market in town.

There are also shops which mainly sell items for Myanmar people such as longyis, blouses, sarongs, purses and handicrafts. Not far from the fresh market is a gems market where you may find good prices for gems and jewellery in various colours and designs.

Wandering around the town at night, you will come across pubs, which play Myanmar music because the places are dedicated almost entirely to clientele from the country.

It is not far wrong to say that Mae Sot is in fact little Myanmar.

(Source: Bangkok Post, Travel Feature, Little Myanmar, Mae Sot offers a taste of Myanmar, without crossing borders, 9/08/2012, link)


Travel Vocabulary

Mae Sot - a border town in Thailand next to Myanmar or Burma, many Karens live in the area (See Wikipedia)

Mae Sot offers a taste of Myanmar, without crossing borders

laid-back - relaxed, comfortable, slow
laid-back town

outpost - a small town or military camp far from other places
border - the official line separating two areas, regions or countries เขตแดน อาณาเขต

border outpost - small town on the border between two countries
trading outpost
- a small town where goods are bought and sold

Mae Sot is a border outpost and separated from Myanmar by the Moei River.

slow movement - a trend or movement around the world for people to do things more slowly that they did fast and quickly in the past, this improves quality of life (See Wikipedia)

slow travel - the worldwide trend and practive of travelling more slowly, so you can enjoy the places you go more (See Wikipedia)
enjoy slow travel

explore - to travel to a place, look around the place (learn more about it or search for something)
attraction -
a tourist attraction, an interesting place for tourists to go to and see
explore
the many attractions.

Mae Sot in the western province of Tak is a laid-back town where you can enjoy slow travel by riding a bicycle to explore the many attractions.

influence - affect what people do, think or behave อิทธิพล มีอิทธิพลต่อ, ชักจูง อำนาจบังคับ
influence of Myanmar culture in the town

enchanting  -
very interesting, attractive and lovely
the influence of Myanmar culture in the town makes it all the more enchanting.

ferry - a boat that makes short regular journeys between two or more places เรือข้ามฟาก เรือรับส่งข้ามฟาก
take a short ferry ride
people often use the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge or take a short ferry ride to cross into each country

local - in the local area where you are staying ท้องถิ่น
authorities - government officials; the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
local authorities

ceremony - a formal public event งานพิธี
anniversary - a date when you celebrate something that happened in a previous year that is important to you วันครบรอบ

hold a ceremony to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the friendship bridge

commemorate - to remember officially and give respect to a great person or event, especially by a public ceremony or by making a statue or special building ฉลอง (เพื่อเป็นการระลึกถึง) การระลึกถึง
occasion - a special event or time
commemorate the occasion

On Wednesday, local authorities of both countries will hold a ceremony to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the friendship bridge. To commemorate the occasion, authorities on both sides have discussed the possibility of allowing visitors from Thailand to explore more cities in Myanmar, in addition to Myawaddy, which is located on the other side of the river.

ethnic group - a group with its own language and culture in a country (not the main group like Thais in Thailand or Burmese in Burma)
ethnic groups such as the Karen, Hmong and Lahu

migrant - moving from one place to another อพยพ
migrant worker - someone who travels to another place or country in order to find work (an immigrant is someone who comes to live in a country from another country) ผู้อพยพ
Myanmar migrant workers

construction - the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. การก่อสร้าง
construction sites - places where new buildings are being built

hospitality - being friendly, kind and generous to visitors and travellers
hospitality business - the tourism, hotel and restaurant business

estimated
estimated that more than 100,000 Myanmar people live in the town

For a long time, Mae Sot has been home to ethnic groups such as the Karen, Hmong and Lahu, as well as Myanmar migrant workers. It is estimated that more than 100,000 Myanmar people live in the town and work in factories, on construction sites and in the hospitality business. Many shops also have signs written in Myanmar language.

traditional - things (clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time
traditional dress

spot - to see or notice
spot people from Myanmar

check out
- look at (to see what they look like)
check out their faces


cosmetic - involving substances, treatments, etc. that which are intended to improve the appearance of your face or body ซึ่งทำให้สวยงาม
paste - a thick substance halfway between solid and water (like toothpaste)  แป้งเปียก ยาพอก ดินเหนียวเปียก, ก้อนเส้นหมี่คลุกเนย, การชกต่อยหรือตีอย่างแรง
cosmetic paste  

thanaka - a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark of a tree that makes the skin smooth and cool, from Burma and seen commonly applied to the face and sometimes the arms of women and girls and to a lesser extent men and boys  (See Wikipedia)

apply - to put something on a surface (example: apply makeup to the face)
apply thanaka

grind - to break something into very small pieces or powder (by pressing and crushing between hard surfaces) บด
bark - the hard outside of a tree เปลือกไม้
ground thanaka bark

a yellow cosmetic paste made of ground thanaka bark

cool - not hot, comfortable low temperature, but not too cold เย็น
smooth - a surface without bumps or rough areas เรียบ
keeps their skin cool and smooth

Apart from traditional dress, another easy way to spot people from Myanmar is to check out their faces. Women and children love to apply thanaka , a yellow cosmetic paste made of ground thanaka bark. People from Myanmar believe that applying thanaka keeps their skin cool and smooth.


gem - a jewel (= precious stone), especially when cut into a particular regular shape อัญมณี, เพชรพลอย
trade - the buying and selling of goods การค้าขาย
gem trade

precious
- worth a lot of money; of great value because of being rare, expensive or important มีค่า,ล้ำค่า ที่มีค่าสูงส่ง
precious stones

teak - (See Wikipedia)

trading outpost
for gems and teak imported from Myanmar

ingredients - foods that are used with other foods in the preparation of a particular dish ส่วนประกอบ
cooking ingredients

frozen
- when water turns to ice
frozen shrimp

cooking ingredients like fresh or frozen shrimp

seasonings - things added to food to improve flavour such as salt, black pepper, basil, and spices (See Wikipedia) เครื่องปรุงรส

traded - bought and sold ค้าขาย
estimated that the trade value between the two countries is as high as 30 billion baht a year

source - the place or person something comes from or starts at, or the cause of something ต้นกำเนิด, แหล่งกำเนิด
income - money that people receive from work or some other source, used for household consumption and savings
source of income - where the money a person or company gets comes from

contributor

a major contributor to the economy

source of income is also a major contributor to the economy of Mae Sot

notice -
wandering around you will notice several temples

Mae Sot is known as a trading outpost for gems and teak imported from Myanmar. In addition, cooking ingredients like fresh or frozen shrimp, seasonings, agricultural and factory products are also traded. It is estimated that the trade value between the two countries is as high as 30 billion baht a year. This source of income is also a major contributor to the economy of Mae Sot. Wandering around the town, you will notice several Myanmar-style temples. Among them are Wat Chumphon Khiri, noted for its golden pagoda built in the style of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon; Wat Thai Wattanaram, which houses a reclining Buddha built in the style of Myanmar; and Wat Manee Phraison, which houses more than 500,000 Myanmar-style seated Buddha images inside its praying hall.

highlight - the most exciting, impressive, or interesting part of an something จุดสำคัญ เรียกทับศัพท์ว่า ไฮไลท์  เน้น ย้ำความสำคัญ
cliff - a steep side of an area of high land หน้าผา

a golden pagoda built on top of a gold-painted rock over a cliff.

Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda - the famous pagoda in Burma built on a rock that hangs off the side of a mountain (See Wikipedia)

icon
(noun) - something or someone that is very famous and represents something (example, a monk meditating is a sort of icon of Buddhism)
iconic
(adjective)  

marvel -
something that is very interesting, exciting or surprising to see or do
iconic marvel

Another highlight is Wat Phra That Doi Hin Kew, a forest temple which has a golden pagoda built on top of a gold-painted rock over a cliff. The style resembles the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda, the iconic marvel built on top of the famed Golden Rock in Myanmar's Mon State.

dish - a type of cooked food eaten at a meal
Myanmar dishes - Burmese food cooked and eaten at a meal (See Wikipedia and list of dishes)

vendors
- sellers; people who sell things (in a market, for example)  พ่อค้า พ่อค้าแม่่ค้าหาบแร่แผงลอย

Foodwise, there are several ready-to-eat Myanmar dishes offered by vendors at a morning fresh market in town.

sarong -
a long piece of cloth wrapped around the waist and worn as traditional clothing by many of the people living in Southeast Asia, especially in Burma/Myanmar  โสร่ง (See Wikipedia)
longyi - (See Wikipedia)

blouse -
a shirt for women (See Wikipedia)

purse -
a small bag for women to carry money in  (See Wikipedia)
handicrafts
- when skilled people or "craftsmen" make beautiful objects with their hands, such as a jewelry box carved from wood  (See Wikipedia)

There are also shops which mainly sell items for Myanmar people such as longyis, blouses, sarongs, purses and handicrafts. Not far from the fresh market is a gems market where you may find good prices for gems, and jewellery in various colours and designs.

dedicated - used for only one kind of work or for one purpose
clientele - (formal) customer ลูกค้า

dedicated
almost entirely to clientele from the country

Wandering around the town at night, you will come across pubs, which play Myanmar music because the places are dedicated almost entirely to clientele from the country. It is not far wrong to say that Mae Sot is in fact little Myanmar.

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