How to get deported from Myanmar with Style
I had walked down this road for many miles when I decided to take an almost hidden trail. So far my entrance and backpacking through Myanmar had been thoroughly uneventful. The trail wound around, meandering through the jungle, finally opening up into a clearing.
Here was a field of bright yellow flowers. The path grew smaller but continued through them, and on I walked, surrounded by the golden field. In the distance was a human shape; I made my way slowly towards it. It was an old man, dressed in a cotton farmer's outfit with holes throughout it's blue wrapped exterior. He wore a wide-brimmed, dried palm hat typical of field workers. He smiled at me.
I tried to communicate a greeting in the Thai language in hopes that this would work with us being so close to the border. I got no response. He continued grinning at me. I was about to move on when he finally said a word softly.
My interest was piqued, I moved closer to him.
He motions at the yellow flowers, "Poppy" he said in English.
It dawned on me, I was in a field of poppy plants, commonly used to make...
The old man took out a long pipe and in a smooth as could be practiced motion, lit it.
"Opium?" he asked in clear English, offering me the pipe.
I put my hands up and shook them. "No, thank you. No thanks, sir". I heft my bag upon my shoulders and hiked quickly out of there - in the distance I thought I could hear the old man laughing.
Down at the border town, away from the illegal poppy fields, I found myself in a crowded marketplace. I made my way through the bustling crowd as they parted for me, an obvious outsider. Stares followed me closely. I spotted a young woman cradling a baby by one of the stalls. She was dressed in ragged clothes and covered in dust, leaning against the food stall as she held her baby to her breast. She was very skinny. I took a closer glance at the baby. The stomach was bloated from malnutrition, but its arms and legs were morbidly thin. As she silently held this poor child, she rocked back and forth, back and forth, with a dead look in her eyes.
My initial sense of disgust was replaced first by compassion, and then quickly anger rose within me as I looked around. We were in a crowded marketplace filled with food, yet no one seemed to notice this woman and baby starving to death in front of them. "What the fuck. What the fuck is wrong with these people?" replayed itself over and over in my mind.
I moved towards her and whipped out my wallet. In front of her I placed a couple hundred Thai baht. At the border of Myanmar, this would be enough to feed her and her child for many days. She looked up at me and something in her eyes sparkled as she placed her hands on the bills.
Immediately the crowd encircled and a human wave moved in on us, hands outstretched, begging. Everyone wanted money.
Fearing for the safety of the woman and child, before she could mutter a word, I dashed away and pushed my way through the zombie-like crowd. Such is life when everyone is poor.
By the time I had made it to the next town, I was in what might be described as a shitty mood. Backpacking through Myanmar was supposed to be my vacation from teaching English to children among the hilltribes of Thailand. As I trekked onward, I once again found myself making my way through a less filled market.
A street vendor approached me pedaling his wares: boxes of cigarettes. I shook my head and he moved on. Another vendor walked up and showed me a chest filled with fake watches. This one was a little more persistent but soon left me alone. A third vendor practically ran to me as I gave him an incredulous look. He sheepishly showed me a box filled with porn with a grin on his face. I didn't do anything besides shake my head.
"Want a girl?" he asked me in Thai.
"A what?" I replied, blinking.
"A young girl," he said, a smile spread across his face.
"How young?" I asked.
"How young do you want her?" his grin became unbearable.
So I punched him in the face.
He fell backwards to the ground and the entire marketplace went silent as they all stared at me. I had missed his nose, but hit his lip causing it to bleed. An eternity passed. A border control officer broke the silence by sprinting up.
The street vendor pimp had picked himself up and was conversing with the officer in rapid Burmese. I tried to get a word in but things looked pretty grim. Here I was, as a foreign national, attacking a citizen of their country. Anger as I had never felt before welled up under my burning skin. I could do nothing to help the child, I just wanted to cause this man pain.
"He tried to offer me an underage prostitute!" I explained in Thai. The border control officer gave me a look, and then went back to his discussion.
"Look," I said more forcibly, "I will give you 1000 baht and you let me hit him again!" I pointed at the pimp and made a fist with my other hand.
 1000 baht is a little over $30 US.
The border control officer looked me over, contemplating. Our eyes locked as we held a brief staring contest that seemed to span much longer than it was. Finally he looked away.
"You give me 1000 baht, and we'll forget this ever happened," he told me coolly in Thai.
So I bribed a border control officer. Instead of going to jail, he led me to the Myanmar/Thailand border and kicked me back out to Thailand.
"Don't come back," one of the officers told me in Thai.
"Like hell I will," I muttered in English as I walked across the gate.