Burmese border crossers push a boat headed back to Burma (the buildings in the background are in Burma) into the Moei River.
I went to Mae Sot primarily to photograph a story about drug resistant malaria. I had some extra time so I also photographed daily life in the border town.
I think Mae Sot is one of the most interesting towns in Thailand.
It's in Thailand but it's not really Thai - it's a blend of Burmese and Thai.
It's a dynamic I've witnessed in border cities along the US/Mexico border and the Mexican/Guatemalan border. The border city in the more economically prosperous country takes in huge numbers of migrants from its less prosperous neighbor and businesses in the more prosperous country are happy to hire them. The migrants are looking for a better life, the businesses are looking for low wage workers.
The "Friendship Bridge" over the Moei River between Mae Sot and Myawaddy is the official border crossing point. It's a busy place, Burmese and Thais, along with a few foreign tourists and businesspeople, line up to cross to Burma while a steady stream of Burmese, who have official crossing documents, cross from Burma into Thailand.
Burmese hang out on the Thai side of the Friendship Bridge in Mae Sot.
But the really interesting stuff happens downstream, starting just below the bridge and going kilometers down the river. A steady stream of boats, packed well beyond capacity, cross the river bringing hundreds of Burmese into Thailand every hour.