Children’s Day in Mae Sot

After a VERY long delay, caused by a lot of travelling, computer problems, and time constraints (I’m writing my thesis now, so I have to prioritise), finally a few blog posts with a whole bunch of photos are coming this way. I’m back in Uppsala, Sweden now, but this post is about Mae Sot, Thailand in January. Yes, January.

I spent Christmas in Vancouver, and a week later returned to Mae Sot to continue my activities of thesis research and having fun. The first shot is a random – two Buddhist monks crossing to Burma on the Moei River Bridge that separates Burma from Thailand just outside Mae Sot:

On January 9th, the day before Thai schools celebrated Thailand’s annual Children’s Day, I was invited to check out a big Children’s Day celebration for Burmese migrant schools in a big field in the outskirts of Mae Sot. One of the first things I noticed was a man jabbing a bamboo pole into the ground. This seemed just a little bit strange, and you’ll find out soon enough what it was for.

These boys were looking happy in their rarely worn traditional clothing. I forgot to look at my camera settings and took a ridiculously overexposed shot, so this is what I got out of it, after some editing:

The celebration brought 5 migrant schools together, all primary schools, which means there were a LOT of little children running around! Many of the girls performed dances on stage for the parents and other children:

This toddler was more interested in me than the dancers:

In case you haven’t seen my previous photos of kids from Burma hanging out in Thailand, the stuff on his cheeks is called thanaka; made from sandalwood, it’s used as a skin cream by children and young adults, and by women, and also acts as sunscreen (often it’s seen covering the whole face).

Right, so that bamboo pole we saw earlier…. It turns out it’s a game – two boys work together to get the 500 Baht note (about CAD $15 – a LOT of money) on a stick at the top and, if they succeed, they get to keep it. The pole is coated in wine, though, which makes it extremely slippery!

They’re given the wine-soaked rag which they must use, and they chose to tie it to the one boy’s legs, not sure why…

He didn’t manage to get high enough up to grab the money, so he came down and they rethought their strategy. They switched positions, and this time the boy climbing chose to use the rag with his hands, wrapped around the pole.


The crowd was quite happy to see the boys succeed!

Another game being played involved some hand-carved wooden pins and three tennis balls. There was a very long queue for turns to play (all the games were free, of course, as the attendees wouldn’t have the money to attend a fair with paid games), and most of the children managed to knock at least one pin down.

One of the most exciting games for many was the balloon-popping-wrestling game. I’ve seen this at other events with Burmese people as well. The children all tie a balloon to their ankle (sometimes one to each leg), and they run around trying to pop each other’s balloons. The last person standing with an unpopped balloon is the winner, and they’re allowed a fair bit of body contact! These are the last two standing in their match:

One of the schoolchildren taking care his baby brother:

A number of races were organised as well, about 75m or so in length:

Spectators for the races had to protect their heads, and their younger siblings’ heads, from the strong midday sun:

The winner! The motion blur is deliberate, and I kinda like the way it turned out.

Well, that was children’s day for migrants from Burma. They’re a terrifically poor community, but they try to maintain a semblance of normalcy, especially for the kids, and I think this celebration was particularly fun and beneficial to the kids’ happiness.

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