inconsistent news from southeast asia

Travel time: September 2005 - March 2006  |  by Matthew Audley

The long awaited Opium hall

hmm... well, not much to report up till day 35, when we finally made it to the much anticipated Opium Exhibition Hall in Chiang Saen. The day before i got my hair cut.. is that news? Still haven't shaved, though.

Anyway, we had to get up early to see the hall, and it was 300B a PERSON! but we think it was worthwhile. Caught a songthaew (the pick-up truck thingies, remember) out of Chiang Saen and to the so-called "golden triangle".

The golden triangle is the confluence of three countries: Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos and is notorious for its production of opium, now largely supplanted, at least in thailand, by coffee and other substitute crops. (Yes, Laos still exports a substantial amount of opium - i don't know about Myanmar.) So i have a picture that shows these three countries all at once, but damnit, it just isn't that interesting.

There's also a lot of touristy stuff and some wats.

Buddha in the sky (# 647)

Buddha in the sky (# 647)

The Opium Hall itself was an impressive, elaborate affair. And they prohibited pictures. We learned a lot, particularly about the history of Opium and the rather profound effect it has had on the course of history. Catherine promises to file a report about all of this later, and it's intriguing, i promise.

Here's one of the pictures i didn't take while at the hall:

It's a wax opium addict!  How educational!  His arm sort of twitches up and down periodically, too.

It's a wax opium addict! How educational! His arm sort of twitches up and down periodically, too.

Really, though it was a very educational day - we spent some three hours wandering around that place without even noticing.

By the time we were done with the Opium Hall if was 4:30 or so and the last bus was leaving Chiang Saen at 5:00. And, of course, someone wanted to convince us that the last Songthaew had left, which i admit, is possible. It's also possible they were lying. Anyway, we didn't have enough time to find out.

So - we rode back on the back of a scooter. Yes, we. And it wasn't even a small guy. Three of us snuggled up together on that little hundred CC thing (naturally, I got the middle). Could barely go fifty, and Catherine was terrified. It was all very entertaining and i really wanted to try to take a picture - maybe stick my arm out and see if i couldn't do it. But Catherine probably would've killed me. No picture for you.

Day 36 (octo 19), we finally left Chiang Rai.. in a very lazy fashion. Up just in time to check out at noon, the usual leisurely breakfast at our usual breakfasting place and the bus waiting for us at the station.

The 3-hour ride to Chiang Khong, on the Lao border, was fairly uneventful. We arrived in this one-street border town at about 5:30 and managed to wander in the right direction. (i bought a compass, you know - it has served me well.)

We're staying in a guesthouse/travel agency recommended to us by the guy who owned the GH/travel agency that we stayed at in Pai. The one that sent us on that crazy bus adventure, bless his heart. Anyway, it's an amazing place for 150B, complete with a private bathroom WITH HOT WATER SHOWER. And a lovely view out over the Mekong from our front door.

I'm updating now because tomorrow is a big day. We're getting on the slow boat to Luang Prabang, in Laos, finally done with Thailand for the time being.

It's a two day trip and i'm looking forward to it quite a lot, for some reason. Tomorrow night we stay in Pakbeng, a small village in the middle of nowhere in Laos. Wish us luck.

© Matthew Audley, 2005
You are here : Overview Asia Thailand The long awaited Opium hall
The trip
Leaving for bangkok on Sept. 12. Where we go from there is anyone's guess. Hoping to see Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. Be back in six months or so if everything goes well. There really isn't much of a route planned - we'll see what happens.
Start of journey: Sep 12, 2005
Duration: 6 months
End of journey: Mar 19, 2006
Travelled countries: Thailand
Southeastern Asia
The Author
Matthew Audley is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 19 years.
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