Thirty days have gone by already. It's time for another visa run.
After waiting in line for an hour, we are on our way.
The bus strains through the mountains towards Mae Sot.
It is the only town on the Northwest border where travelers can cross into Burma.
The streets are mostly dark when we arrive, except for a giant pagoda lit with Christmas lights.
In the morning, we rent bicycles and ride to the border only to find we cannot take them across.
"Why not?" asks Justin.
"Walking is good for your health," says the guard.
Once again I marvel at Burma, just on the other side of a tiny brown river.
Yet it feels so different (photo by Justin above).
In Chiang Mai we are two among many tourists and ex-pats, but in Myawaddy a tuk tuk driver follows us for blocks trying to give us a ride. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners eye us hopefully. "Hello," call the young men on the street corners. For the first time in months, I reconsider the short dress I am wearing.
But Justin, rightfully braver under these circumstances, leads us into a makeshift snooker hall
and plays three games with a Burmese teenager.
A crowd gathers to watch.
When he finally wins the third game, they clap.
It's time to leave.
I take one last look back across the river.