Regular readers will recall that in recent weeks I have pointed out some of the interesting parts of Burma and Thailand that are visible on satellite images. Today I have been scouting around for other places of interest and decided that a short tour of the towns of Ruili and Muse would be appropriate.

From high above, this little corner of the Sino-Burmese border is unremarkable.

However a few nudges of the zoom function and we are right up close on Jie Gao, the peculiar little piece of Chinese commercial life on the “wrong” side of the river. It is, of course, where one of the major border gates between China and Burma lies. Right up close and personal with the border checkpoints between the two countries it is possible to see border life very clearly. It looks like this shot was taken on a busy day. Just off to the side of the Chinese checkpoint is the Dai-Jingpo Cultural Park that featured in this series of New Mandala posts.

Images from along the border show, in pretty stark contrast, how much the two sides of the border differ in the shape and size of their buildings. Downtown Ruili has been largely polished up these days and its many stately buildings are visible from high above.

Unfortunately most of the rural terrain around Ruili and Muse (particularly in highland areas) is currently serviced by much poorer resolution imagery. I assume that, at some stage, this will change and other rural areas of interest in China and Burma (not to mention Thailand, Laos and elsewhere) will be available in the crisper resolution. Right now it is not, unfortunately, possible to pick out all of the other checkpoints and informal crossings that proliferate along the Sino-Burmese border.

If you have your own coordinates of interest from this intriguing corner of China and Burma please post a comment. And if you are simply keen to learn more about this part of the world this article offers a punchy overview.