January 30, 2018
The Notorious Golden Triangle was for decades the center of the Southeast Asia opium industry. The train.e is where the countries of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar AKA Burma meet. For much of the 20th Century the area was controlled by drug lords with private armies. A crack down began in the late 1960’s and today the region is peaceful and becoming a commercial trade center. But first we had to get there.
We left Lampang at 8. We drove through rice fields and teak forests that dominate this hilly region. The weather was almost balmy as we wound through the mountains. We reached the large lake Phayao and took a break. A break means toilets and shopping. In this case we added bamboo worms. They are deep fried and taste like McDonald’s fries once you get past their worm appearance. Peggy found a shirt and skipped the worms. We took a few pictures of the 6 foot deep lake and re-boarded the bus.
More rice fields and prosperous looking farms. He stopped to sample and purchase some fresh tiny pineapples. The fruit was expertly carved and prepared for us and we’re delicious.By noon we were ready for lunch. The meals was served on a covered room with magnificent plants, flowers and a selection of Thai dishes. All was,enjoyed before hitting the road again.
Around two we off loaded near the dock on the Mekong River. A few pictures followed before boarding a vintage river boat. We roared up River in the direction of China and got as close to Burma as was safe in the dry season water. Americans need a Visa to go there so we just got close. The Chinese are building a casino on the Burmese shoreline as they are also building a huge casino in Laos just opposite Thailand. No gambling casinos in Thailand and these places will be off limits to the Laotians and Burmese. Obviously, the Chinese investors hope to plumb the relatively affluent Thai population like a would Vegas.
We paid our $3 landing fee and jumped off our boat in Laos for half hour visit. I managed to swallow a small shot of whiskey from a jug that contained a floating iguana. It looked friendlier than a snake. We were offered opium pipes but I told,them that I was fresh out. We didn’t wait to see what they could arrange. The other shopping goods were basically knock off cigarettes and handbags. Essentially, the Laotians are a couple decades behind their Thai cousins. The most obvious difference for us were the numerous children begging. We have not seen any Thai beggars. The bathrooms were also 3rd World. Too bad.
Once back in Thailand, we headed for the northern most point in Thailand and the Burmese border crossing. Pictures were taken for documentation and we bounced around the street souvenir shops for a while before heading to our hotel in Chaing Mai. The last hour ride was tiring and we reached the hotel in the dark. It was worth the wait. We are in a teak tree house and enjoyed a nice dinner. More pictures to follow tomorrow.