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Introducing Sangkhlaburi

Geopolitical borders guillotine one nation from another but rarely succeed in severing the body ethnic identity. Sangkhlaburi is an excellent example of a border town’s ethnic spectrum, populated by Burmese, Karen, Mon, Thai and a small group of Lao. Each group holds fast to their mother tongue; in some cases because it is the only language they know, in other cases as a farewell gesture to an abandoned homeland. To the immigrants from Myanmar, Sangkhlaburi must represent a beginning, but from any other direction this is the end of the road with all of its attendant remoteness.

Sangkhlaburi sits at the edge of the huge Kheuan Khao Laem (Khao Laem Dam); the town was created after the dam flooded out an older village near the confluence of the three rivers that now feed the reservoir. There’s not much to do in town except wander the traffic-less streets and watch the fishing boats putter across the lake. The town has become a popular recreation spot for jungle tours and elephant treks. The town comes alive on Mon National Day, celebrated during the last week of July.