The golden triangle is a large area that overlaps mountainous regions of northern Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. Along with the golden crescent of Afghanistan, it’s become one of the largest opium producers, and was the largest until passed by Afghanistan in the early 21st century. Most of the opium is grown in Myanmar, taken by donkey and horse to refineries along the border, converted to heroin, and then the majority shipped across the border to Thailand and down to Bangkok to be distributed internationally.
It’s a beautiful area. The roads are awesome in Thailand, and even the small roads on the map are better than Laos highways. I curled and climbed my way along the Mekong getting sweeping views of valleys and lush green forests. Back to Thailand and back to big, colorful, impressive temples everywhere. There are many along the river, and it almost feels like they’re trying to show off to the countries on the other side and let them know who dominates temples.
I spent the day weaving along the border all the way up to Mae Sai, which is the very northern border into Myanmar. Pretty much just a big busy border city so I hung a left and aimed south. The sun was starting to set at this point and barely peaked around the mountains in the distance. The rays shot down over the green fields like god giving energy to his land or aliens beaming toxic rays to control our minds. Whatever fanciness was at work made for a nice place to pull over and relax into peaceful thought.
Along the way south I was passed by a caravan of massive military trucks full of soldiers and their weapons. There had to have been forty of them. I read a couple days later that some fighting is going on up in the north across the border. They definitely had a look like they were happy to be back on calmer grounds. I stumbled upon a huge street market to fill up on a smorgashborg of foods before dark. I stayed away from any pork products.
Searching for a cozy little home for the night out side of town I stumbled upon a perfect spot. Off the road and out of site between some forested mountains along a stream was a tiny little hut, which was the perfect fit for me and my bike. The last warmth was drained out of the sun as it slid behind the ridge and glazed everything with an orange hue. It’s the kind of place I would have loved to find when I was a kid and dream about running away to live off the land. It was a peaceful night before heading towards Chiang Mai.
It wouldn’t be a day in Thailand without stoping in to see a temple, and Wat Tha Ton is a good place to get your fix. In the middle of the small town (Thaton) you turn off under a small unassuming archway with faded paint. My favorite shrine was for the rooster king. He apparently loved roosters and could communicate with them through sign language that he learned back in Sri Lanka. Three of his wives were roosters. His military was comprised of 34 percent roosters and he had trained them to be strong and able fighters. When he died his body was blended into a sludge and fed to roosters of the highest standing in the royal family. When you hear roosters screaming at four in the morning it’s in his memory and dedicated General Rooster.
Actually I can’t read Thai, but I’m fairly sure thats what all the writing explained. I might have missed something. The views from up top are beautiful and would be a lot more spectacular if it wasn’t for all the haziness. The main temple is full of all kinds of stuff including some very lifelike minks, big crazy dudes with swords looking to chop you up, many small and large statues, and explanations of all the Chinese birth animals.
Some impressive giant dragons were close by, and either they are thieving or rude dragons. Not quite sure. In one way it looks like they are holding a big bag of money and a gold bar, which they just stole from a helpless old lady trying to cross the street. The second possibility is they’re just rude dragons, which were trying to make me feel bad for not showering in 3 days. It very much looked like they were holding out to me a giant bar of soap and a one of those fancy sudsing loofa things.
A really cute kid no more than three years old was praying to the buddha at the pond. They really start them early. I’m not sure if he enjoyed the praying or feeding the fish in the pond. It’s packed full of them, and they go wild for the little pellet food you can toss in. I think he was just putting on a good praying show for mom so she would buy him more fish food. I was then on the home stretch to Chiang Mai and made it in the late afternoon. After getting a cheap bungalow for the night I went out for a wander. A lot of it brought back memories from when my mom came to visit me and we spent close to a week in the area. I noticed little restaurants where we ate, temples we explored, and fish we let eat the dead skin off our feet. Maybe new fish, but same place. That was some good times and I look forward to doing it again somewhere in the world. I had planned to take some time in Chiang Mai and do some maintenance on the motorcycle and just tune it up. Soon I’ll be crossing Myanmar towards India and into some pretty remote areas, which will be a lot more difficult to manage. I don’t trust a mechanic over here to tighten a bolt. With a heavy layer of Laos coating my bike, I went and got a wash before taking stuff apart. I actually ended up doing most the washing. I read online about a good car wash that would detail big motorcycles for $5. I went in and the guy spent five minutes power washing it and a minute grazing over the plastics with a soapy rag. The thing was still filthy and caked with dirt and grime. I used their equipment and washed the entire thing myself, gave him a couple bucks, and drove off. Days were then spent working on the bike, and half of it was just running around trying to track simple things down. Hours were spent trying to explain the easy things I needed. The main thing I did was disassemble the entire rear suspension and then cleaned and greased everything.
It definitely had never been done because most of them were bone dry and starting to rust. I spent a lot of time in the little guesthouse carpark. A group of ladies hung out there all day long only leaving to tend to some chores. I went through the tools and boxes looking to get my weight down. I had a four or five wrenches that I really don’t need so I gave them to one of the ladies. Once you break the ice and do something nice for them they will love you forever. She offered me cigars all day, brought me towels to use for rags, food, water, let me use the washing area, and was super sweet and gave the area a good vibe. I looked forward to going out in the morning and saying hi to them. They were even nice enough to put up with my loud music.