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Burma forum

Spending your cash in Burma, were does it go?

Posted by Sampan on 18/10/2010 at 15:32

Hi folks,

Sorry for the somewhat unclear titile, I'll try to explain.

Burma is one of those places that i have a really deep desire to visit, for a hole lot of reasons, but under the current circumstances i don't feel that i can. It would make me feel like i'm supporting the regime. Now, i know there are other ways to see this but this is how i feel.

However, i'm currently in Chiang Mai and planning a 30 day motorbike tour starting in a few days, and one of the the things i would like to do is cross in to Tachilek from Mae Sai for a day just to get a feel for it (from what i understand, you're allowed to cross the border for one day without stamping out your visa/passport, correct?).

So, were does the money go if i would like to buy something on the Burmese side? Is there anything like private businesses, or is it all controlled so that the military gets its share no matter what?

If any of you with any insight in this could help clarify, i would be really grateful!

//

#1 Sampan has been a member since 3/9/2009. Posts: 110

Posted by Tilapia on 20/10/2010 at 04:28

Hi Sampan,

Regardless of what anyone says about "private businesses," rest assured there are none in the complete sense of the word private. If a business exists, it is because the military allows it to exist, and they will exact their share either through taxes, partial ownership (e.g. the old saying, "Stay in a 4-star hotel owned by a 4-star general."), or something else along those lines. From the outside there appears to be no connection, but there are always strings attached.

So, no matter how much visitors want to support the so-called local economy, they are still, in some way, supporting the regime.

Perhaps the largest, one-time chunk of cash that most people provide to the junta comes from the visa fee. No way around that if you're going to cross the border.

If you're not sure if you should go or not, and if your only exposure to the country is going to be Tachilek for a day, then you might find that your deep desire to visit the country is not going to be satisfied. I'd say that if you want to go, then go and travel there and satisfy that craving. It's an astounding country with absolutely fantastic people.

Of course there are many arguments for going and not going. Good luck with your decision-making.

#2 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,491
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Posted by Sampan on 20/10/2010 at 09:42

Tilapia, thank you very much for the reply.

#3 Sampan has been a member since 3/9/2009. Posts: 110

Posted by exacto on 20/10/2010 at 11:13

i seriously doubt that all of the money spent by western tourists in burma is even a drop in the bucket compared to what china is spending and investing in the country. i guess because of that i wouldn't worry too much about it.

i did that one-day trip across the border to tachilek about a decade ago now. we just wandered around, bought a few trinkets and had lunch and a few beers. pretty decent beers as i remember. i hope you have a good experience and since it has been so long since i went, i'd really like to hear how it goes and what you did and what you thought about spending the day in tachilek. cheers.

#4 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,631
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Posted by Sampan on 20/10/2010 at 15:03

exacto, I'll post a message if i go.

#5 Sampan has been a member since 3/9/2009. Posts: 110

Posted by Tilapia on 20/10/2010 at 23:19

Ya, the beer is excellent. Much better than most Thai beer.

China is their biggest investor. All roads being built (with slave labour) lead to China.

#6 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,491
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