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.
The “Golden Triangle” calls to mind the opium trade which, for many years, was this region’s most notorious product. Thailand has worked hard to replace opium farming with other productive and profitable trades, not least of which is agrotourism. Doi Tung and Mae Salong are known for coffee and tea, respectively, and it is these areas we will now visit in search of intellectual and caffeinated stimulation.