Today we leave Nan province and cross Phayao province to Chiang Rai, which was previously part of Phayao province. This region, best known as part of the “Golden Triangle” has a troubled history with production and trafficking of opium. However, over the course of several decades communities have been rehabilitated and put on a solid economic footing due in no small part to the efforts of one woman, Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother, the mother of Thailand’s beloved and recently passed King Rama IX. Through visits to Doi Tung and Mae Salong, we will experience her work, and we also will visit a Cultural Center that occupies the site of a school she founded for hill tribe women.
Today we descend from the mountaintop to the city for our last two nights in the North before returning to Bangkok and our home faraway. I’m pleased that tea will take precedence over coffee for at least a few hours, but clearly I’m in the minority in Thailand (and California), so I’ll try not to bore my fellow travelers too much.
Pua has been relaxing, but it’s time to move on. Since our vans are so heavily laden, we’ll take the lower of two mountain routes, which nevertheless will be a strain on the engines as well as our stomachs. On our way to Chiang Rai, we will detour to the little town of Chiang Kham to visit a picturesque temple before settling in at our big city lodging for a night.