- Mae Sot
Mae Sot ( _th. แม่สอด) is a town and district in
Tak Province, Thailandat the Thai- Myanmarborder with the Moei Riveras a natural boundary. Neighboring districts are (North from clockwise): Mae Ramat, Mueang Tak and Phop Phra. The other side of Moei River is Myawaddy, a town in Myanmar. Mae Sot is 86 km away from Mueang Tak and is accessible via Highway 105, which is also Asian Highway AH1.
Gateway to Burma
Mae Sot is the location where Asian Highway AH1 links between Thailand and Burma; thus it is one of the most important gateways to Burma (others includes
Three Pagodas Pass). The Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge crossing the Moei River was constructed in 1997 completing the link between the two countries.cite web|url=http://www.unescap.org/jecf/p06highway.htm|title=Asian Highway|work=Development of the Asian Highway|publisher=Asian Highway|accessdate=2008-08-26] At the entrance of the bridge is the immigration office which is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
As a gateway city, Mae Sot has its own domestic airport. But due to high fuel costs, some airlines such as
Phuket Airhave cancelled their flights between Bangkokand Mae Sot.
Every year, Tak Chamber of Commerce organizes a friendship bicycle rally to Myawwadee.
Trade with Burma, tourism, and sales of local handicraft are a major part of the local economy. The town is visited by tourists, especially those crossing the border to Burma, going north to
Mae Hong Son Province, or those traveling further south to attractions in Amphoe Umphang. The few streets in the downtown core are lined with gem shops. Rim Moei Market, locate just the base of Thai side of Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, is the most famous market of the area offering imported goods. Two Mussur Markets (old and new one) located on AH1 near the border between Mae Sot and Amphoe Mueang Takis the market for agriculture products. The two markets are on the different side of AH1. The old one is in Mae Sot while the new one, just 1 kilometer away, is in Mueang Tak. "Mussur" is the Thai name for Lahu hill tribe.
Dr Cythnia's clinic is located just outside Mae Sot, towards the Burmese border, serving a substantial local population of Burmese refugees.cite web|url=http://www.maetaoclinic.org/|title=Mae Tao Clinic|date=2007|publisher=Mae Tao Clinic|accessdate=2008-09-07] There is a substantial underground and volunteer economy in Mae Sot due to large number of Burmese people who come here seeking safety from their own military government, or employment. A large number of westerners come here, and to nearby refugee camps and Dr Cynthia's clinic to work with Burmese exiles.
Help for Burmese refugees following Cyclone Nargis
Mary's Meals, the well-known campaign of charity Scottish International Relief, began rebuilding schools destroyed by the cyclone in February 2008. Mary's Meals had recently set up feeding shelters in the border refugee camps and are now successfully feeding several thousand children and families a day. Mary's Meals operates by providing a free school meal thereby encouraging hungry children to gain education as well as food. A mailout to Mary's Meals' supporters immediately after the cyclone produced a generous response and the schools where Mary's Meals are being provided are now well on their way to reconstruction.(from Jackie Scott-Mandeville, Mary's Meals, 25th August 2008)
The Mae Sot region has around 70 migrant learning centers that have started spontaneously to meet the needs of the 30,000 school aged children who have crossed the border with their parents from burma. the students are a mix of refugees and economic migrants. of this number only 7000 currently are attending these schools, the schools range in size from from 20 to over 650 students (hsa thoo lei school), [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSyngkXVERo ] these schools receive no support from the thailand government and rely solely on resourcefulness and international support. many opportunities exist for individuals to assist these schools from volunteering to teach english and building playgrounds for example [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGHrJURPcro ]
The district ("
Amphoe") Mae Sot is subdivided into 10 subdistricts (" Tambon"), which are further subdivided into 86 villages (" muban"). The town (" thesaban mueang") Mae Sot covers the whole "tambon" Mae Sot. Tha Sai Luat and Mae Ku are townships (" thesaban tambon"), each covering parts of the same-named "tambon". There are further 9 Tambon administrative organizations (TAO).There are plans to create a new province centered in Mae Sot, covering the 5 border districts of Tak province [cite news|url=http://www.manager.co.th/Local/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9500000058846|publisher=Manager Online|title=อปท.5 อ.ชายแดนตาก ดันตั้ง “จว.77-มหานคร” เสนอ “3 พล.อ.-สนช.” หลังดันมา 5 ปีแต่ไม่คืบ|language=Thai] . Additionally the town is planned to be converted into a metropolis, covering the "tambon" Mae Sot, Mae Pa and Tha Sai Luat. [cite news|url=http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=7379|publisher=The Irrawaddy|title=Mae Sot Metropolis Plan|date=June 5, 2007]
* [http://www.takchamber.com Tak Chamber]
* [http://www.irrawaddy.org/database/1999/vol7.4/maesot.html Mae Sot - Little Burma]
* [http://www.unescap.org/jecf/p06highway.htm Asian Highway]
* [http://www.thaiairways.com/Royal_Orchid_Holidays/Roh_travel_feature/rohweekly-113tharticle-1.htm A Town Like Mae Sot]
* [http://www.burmasolidarity.org BLSO-Mae Sot based burmese NGO]
* [http://www.yestaiwan.org/english/opportunity.htm Youth E-Service (YES)] : Projects of helping to reduce digital illiteracy at the border of Thailand and Burma.
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