Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thailand's "Gem walking street"

The gem trade in Thailand’s Tak province bordering Myanmar is still bustling in spite of political problems in Myanmar and economic recession in Thailand.

Both Thais and foreigners are flocking to the gem market in Mae Sod district to appraise various kinds of gems and buy them to resell and make a profit.

This famous market is called the “gem walking street”. The decade-old market is testimonial to a hundred years of the gem trade at the Thai- Myanmar border.

All gems sold here come from a gem mine about 200 kilometers north of Mandalay. It’s the world’s biggest such mine, famous for the high quality jade and ruby it yields.

About 90 per cent of rubies on the world market come from the mines owned by the Myanmar military government. Western countries which try to sanction Myanmar, call rubies from these mines the “Bloody Rubies” referring to the mistreatment and their poor condition of labourers at the mines.

Still, vividly shining gems from Myanmar remain in high demand.

Although Thailand is believed to have no more gems to mine, the Thais’ skill in cutting and polishing gems help the kingdom earn more than 140 billion baht a year from gem exports. This ‘gem walking street’ has the potential to be the centre of Asia’s gem market, according to the province’s governor.

Regardless of the notorious nickname of “Bloody Rubies”, the colourful precious stones will continue to attract more gem traders to this walking street as well as remain a good source of income for Myanmar.


Gem walking street
Traditional Thai Puppet Theatre under royal patronage of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana
Vivid exhibition
World's biggest wickerwork community in Chonburi
Demonstrative organic farm is open-air learning centre
Anti-drug community
The Prosthesis Foundation under the royal patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana

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