ALOHA from the Land of Smiles

June 18, 2006

Sawadee Khrap (in Thai), Min Ga La Bar (in Burmese), How are you (in English :-) ? It was hot and humid outside. The rain is so scanty in Bangkok. It is nothing comparable to Burmese rain forest. The cloudy sky made the weather hotter and more humid. Eighty degrees Fahrenheit plus 85 % relative humidity is something not pleasant to bear.

Nevertheless, it was very nice and cool inside Bangkok Christ Church. Leaving a nice air-conditioned building, Steven, Mar Naw and I went to rent a car at Lumpinee Car Rent Center Co., Ltd. at 167/4 Wireless Road, Bangkok. Steven and Mar Naw were students from Burma, studying at St. Johns University in Bangkok. A tall, thin Stephen with a nice smile, was the best in Thai among us.

After showing us around which car we could have, we needed to sign a rental agreement. Steven showed the office girl his passport. As soon as she saw the passport, she said we needed a Thai citizen's help to rent the car. She didn't say it at first even though she knew that we were foreigners. Only after she saw his Burmese passport, she changed all of a sudden. Maybe they had a double standard for Burmese. Steven called his Thai friend for help. Unfortunately, he was out of town. He couldn't come to help us.

A little bit being upset, we decided to go to another place, Highway Car Rent at 1018/5 Rama 4 Rd. Bangkok. This time, the guy from the car rental didn't say that we needed a Thai citizen. Instead, he took my friends' passport and went back into the office. It was more than half an hour later when he still didn't appear back from the office. We told the front office guy to give us our passports back if we couldn't rent a car. He went into the office, took our passports and give them back to us. Later we found out that the guy from the Highway Car Rent called Steven's family, talked to his father and asked questions like a detective would to investigate a crime. What was our crime? Being Burmese? :-)

Desperate, we decided to go to the car rental place at the airport and it went smoothly there. We were able to rent a four-wheel drive with no problems.

Burmese people have faced all kinds of discriminations and prejudice here in Thailand. However, many migrant workers, who crossed the border illegally, still want to live and work here. They are making more money and they have more freedom here, not being harassed by village authorities in Burma. However, they were still harassed and extorted money by the Thai police occasionally. When being asked by strangers, they are either too afraid to say they are Burmese or they are ashamed to do so. I truly understand why.

I hope our country's human rights situations and economy will improve so people will work in our own country to contribute to the development of beautiful Burma instead of contributing to the development of other countries.

Please remember all migrant workers, both legal and illegal in Thailand, of Burma in your prayers. May God bless you all!

Love in Christ,
Lwin Moe
http://lwinmoe.friendsofburma.org
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