Monday, April 18, 2005

The Golden Triangle

April 14, 2005

My Visa expires tomorrow so I thought that instead of facing a possible prison sentence for overstaying my time here, I thought it would be a good idea to cross the border today. So I booked myself into an interesting tour that included visiting Laos and Myanmar (Burma). There is actually a very famous place where the three countries intersect. This place is the Mekong River and is called 'The Golden Triangle'. Those of you who remember the Vietnam War, will know that this was an incredible place in the History of that era. A lot of fighting took place here. It is also the place where a lot of opium was smuggled from one country to another.

Our first stop was a Hot springs near Chiang Mai. The water is so hot you can boil an egg in it in a matter of seconds. The temperature is 181 degrees Celsius.

I'm pointing my finger at the point in the river that divides hot from cold. Just one inch apart it goes from scalding hot to cool.

And that's the last cute puppy picture you get Sarah and Rachael. I don't care how much you beg!

This is Nancy and her parents, who are visiting from Singapore. They were really fun to have along on the Minibus. Nancy's dad is a real Joker; always laughing and having fun. They also invited me to come visit Singapore. It sounds like a great place to see.

Then it was off to an ancient City near the border of Burma. This is s Bodhi tree; like the one Buddha sat under when I experienced enlightenment. The sash means that the tree holds a Spirit and is sacred.

I can't help it. I just love the Temples.

Okay, before you say anything, let me just say that I only included this doggie picture to show you how different they seem in Northern Thailand. See how upset he looks; nothing like the dogs on the Islands...

Next, we took a Long tail boat ride around 'The Golden Triangle' which is one of the most amazing places in the world; not so much for how it looks but for the history it represents. This is the place where Thailand, Burma and Laos meet. This giant Golden Buddha is on the Thai side.

Burma has a Casino on it's banks here and many people from Thailand and Laos like to take quick trips over to gamble. Gambling is illegal in Thailand.

My new buddy Shamus, from Ireland B.H. (Before loss of hat)

Shamus A.H. Someone behind me caught the hat as it flew by though.

We stopped for half an hour on the Laos side to walk around and do some shopping. I can't believe we haven't picked this whiskey up as an item in our Canadian liquor stores. Who wouldn't want to drink a bottle of whiskey with a dead snake inside?

Honestly this place was really just a tourist trap, set up so that we could say we were in Laos, but the people were very friendly. And they speak Thai.

I finally found someone who spoke my language.

These are a very nice couple who were on our Tour. He is a software developer from Holland and she is from Bangkok. He comes back every six months to visit her.

Finally, the big event. This is Shamus (W.H.) just ahead of me in the line to enter Burma for a Visa.

I broke my Cambodia record for stays in a different country than Thailand. I was here in Burma for almost three minutes before heading back to the Thailand border. I know you won't believe this but I actually got lost trying to find the line for Thailand and my guide had to come and get me.

I asked if I could take a picture of the Thai Immigration officer as he stamped my passport. He was delighted. Then he said: "50 baht!" and laughed. I ran through in case he changed his mind.

So now that I was a free man again, we headed to a Mountain tribal village to look around.

Okay, I couldn't help it. He was begging for this photo!

Honest! He just jumped up in my arms!!!

I didn't take pictures of the people here. They charged for the photos and it was just too much of a tourist trap for me. Some of our group went down the hill to see the famous long neck tribe. These are women who put rings on their necks to stretch them. This tribe was very much like the Karen tribe I talked about in my Elephant trek posts. They girls get married at 14 years of age and if they aren't married by 19 they are considered spinsters. There is some work being done by the government to try to change this custom because of the harm it does to the women.

1 comment:

~~ Melissa said...

Wow -- such contrasts.
I love, love, love that tree. I imagine there are many spirits in there.