We arrived at Ajan Piew’s house the next morning and walked with him to Louis’s house. Louis was ready for us! He invited us into his home where we found chairs set up in a semi-circle. When we sat down he immediately asked us, “What do you want to know?”
KEVIN: Can you start by telling us when you came from Burma?
LOUIS: I came when I was a teenager. Anu was the Burmese leader and Sanoy was the leader of the Shan State.
KEVIN: Where were you born?
LOUIS: Kengtung, Burma. My mother is from Tae Sai, and my father is from Kengtung.
KEVIN: Why did you leave Burma?
LOUIS: Because of the political situation. I was an advisor to the Shan people. Many leaders were being locked up and sent to jail.
KEVIN: Did you come with other people?
LOUIS: No, I came alone. You had to be careful. It was not safe.
KEVIN: Are you married?
LOUIS: I was married in Burma, but when I left, I did so without telling her. I left before my youngest daughter was born. My wife later came to Thailand with my daughters and remarried. (We later found out that Louis had himself since remarried.)
KEVIN: Were a lot of people coming over from Burma at that time?
LOUIS: Yes. Many people. There was a lot of trouble.
KEVIN: So, were you in Burma when the British were turning the country over to the Burmese?
KEVIN: Did things change?
LOUIS: Yes. There were no freedoms. The Burmese took away the businesses·
·KEVIN: (after noticing the tattoos on Louis’s arm·) Tell me about your tattoos.
LOUIS: Here, on my left arm I have a tattoo of an Apache Indian. On both of my arms I have tattoos of Shan words and symbols. Some were done in the Shan State, others were done in Thailand·
·KEVIN: Did you have any heroes or people that you looked up to?
LOUIS: No, no heroes.
KEVIN: What about kids today? Do they have any heroes?
LOUIS: These days they have TV. Big changes have occurred.
KEVIN: Are there any other changes between the children then and the children today?
LOUIS: There were no games then, but many games today. Louis gave us a better understanding of the history of the Shan State as well as insight into his own personal story. His story seems to be similar to so many other Shan in Northern Thailand.
[This interview was conducted on July 17th, 2002.]