Tachilek: Gateway to Myanmar
4The Visitor’s Market
As soon as you leave the immigration area you will be accosted by pedicab drivers waving cards with pictures of places to visit. If you ignore them, immediately to the right is a short flight of wide steps down from the bridge and into the market area.
Here you will be further accosted, this time by a swarm of youths carrying trays around their necks. The boys specialise in selling dubious cigarettes, and if you turn those down, then they will lean closer and flash some porno VCDs at you while hoarsely whispering some no-doubt profound recommendations. Whilst annoying, they don’t cling and mainly hang around the entrance to the market.
The girls meanwhile seem to prefer selling cheap battery razors and hand-held fans. They obviously feel that I only wear a beard because I lack the equipment necessary to remove it; a deficiency they are most eager to correct. Or maybe they feel I need to lighten my complexion, and get pressed to buy little jars of a creamy-coloured cosmetic paste. It doesn’t seem work though, as while just about everyone has streaks of it on their cheeks, the skin tones here are markedly darker than in Thailand.
The majority of the people here are thin, small-boned with dark, narrow faces and round eyes contrasting with the stockier, heavy-boned, round-faced, mountain dwellers that come into town bent under heavy loads for the markets. Mostly they are bringing fresh vegetables and bamboo shoots in season which they hawk from door to door.