The Golden Triangle
Mae Salong: a slice of Yunnan in Thailand: The Golden Triangle: opium, the warlord Khun Sa and secret Chinese armies fighting to retake China from the Communists in the steamy jungle- clad mountains of Northern Thailand, Burma and Laos.
This was the stuff that fed my imagination when, as a 14 or 15 year old boy, I poured over the Foreign pages of the Guardian newspaper. Teeming waterfalls, misty valleys, exotic hill tribes, and drug laden mule caravans leapt out of the pages I was reading. It was my imagined visions of this land that led me to visit Mae Salong on my way to China along the Mekong River in 2008.
So, it was something of a mild disappointment at first when I jumped off the Songthaew (a Thai type of pickup truck), to find how gentile and quaint it all was. Not quite the rough and ready place I was expecting, and nothing like the unruly Mae La-Na I had visited more than 20 years earlier. However, it didn’t take long to get into the swing of small town Thailand and its unique Chinese association.
It’s a Beautiful Place
Rising and falling along the crests of several hills and set amid undulating mountains, tea plantations, Chinese- style houses and villages populated by a plethora of ethnic hill tribes, Mae Salong is a lovely place to spend a day or two, getting away from the busy world and Thailand’s mass tourism. These days, this little mountain hideaway and tea- lovers’ paradise is a curious blend of Thai and Chinese, flavoured with a distinct aroma of Indian hill station.
The area wasn’t always this peaceful, though. It was once known as the Golden Triangle, the notorious heroin and opium growing area which, during the nineteen sixties, seventies, and even into the eighties produced most of the world’s hard-core narcotics. The disreputably famous Shan drug lord, Khun Sa, had one of his private army bases not far from here. However, the reason we are including Mae Salong in holachina.com, is its seductive Chinese connection.Continue reading “Mae Salong: a slice of Yunnan in Thailand”