Its two years since my last visit to Ban Mae Sam Laeb, a small village / port on the mighty Salween River, some 50kms west of Mae Sariang. The drive from Mae Sariang out to Ban Mae Sam Laeb on the Salween River is fraught with landslide perils at the moment. The road is about to dissolve in many spots, as per the images in the gallery below. Last time I was out here was 2 years ago: /1194-ban-mae-sam-laeb.html – the road has become much worse since then!
The reason for the drive on this day was to take out some malarial medications to the river, find a boat going down-river, and get the meds delivered to the Sob Moei village at the confluence of the Salween & Moei rivers. A friend’s baby nephew had malaria, so she had sourced the required medicines from the hospital… We drove the 50kms to the river, dispatched the medicine on a boat trip of some 30kms downstream along the Thai/Myanmar border.
Life for many people in the villages on the border region is very difficult – no more so than in Wet Season… Ban Sob Moei does have dry-weather dirt road access but like many remote villages in this region, in Wet Season the only access is via boat, or on foot.
The village of Ban Mae Sam Laeb is mostly perched on stilts, overhanging the stream, along the edge of the road that skirts the steep bluffs around to the Salween River. There’s a vertical drop of 15 metres out all the rear ‘windows’ in these houses! Recent heavy rains and flooding have caused the stream to cut into its banks, sending some homes toppling into the muddy waters!
As a consequence, there’s now a temporary “kitchen/dining room” set up across the access street, through which ALL incoming and outgoing vehicles must pass! Next time you are remodelling your already spotless kitchen, spare a thought for the poverty-stricken members of the Ban Mae Sam Laeb community… They are cooking and eating on the road under an open-sided shelter in the pouring monsoon rains and having to dodge passing traffic whilst doing so!