The next stop on our gonzo adventure was at the Golden Triangle itself. This region, where Thailand, Lao & Myanmar/Burma meet, is so named for its opium production. Sadly, Myanmar is second only to Afghanistan in opium production in the world. The Golden Triangle is connected by the Mekong River, the lifeblood of many countries in Southeast Asia. I hope it goes without saying the reason I wanted to see this area has nothing to do with heroin, but the chance to stand in one spot and see three countries was what drew me here.
After we visited the giant gold Buddha and another monument to a Lanna king, we loaded up a boat for a cruise on the Mekong River itself. Here’s the thing about most tourist activities in Thailand: safety precautions seem like an afterthought. I mean, I’ve seen life vests on most boats but never been asked to put one on. So it was a little disconcerting to have our guide insist we don them on this boat especially.
As we got underway, we saw the riverside for each of the countries in the Triangle and the river traffic. Boats move seafood and other goods from the Golden Triangle all the way to China along the Mekong. Motorboats zip law enforcement from all three countries up and down this section of the river. Except for a giant casino, most of the structures visible from the river reveal the overwhelming poverty of this region. After a 30-minute river tour, we put in at Dao Xian on the Lao side on a 30-minute visa. Tomorrow I will detail my bizarre visit there.
Title quote: Heraclitus