Golden Triangle

My younger son Linn Zaw Win, who has been in Singapore for nearly 3 years planned to visit home for a week in February 2011 during my days off. He could not book flight around the Chinese New Year and had booked the trip at a later date. I planned a short trip to Thaton in quest of the Thuwunnabhumi remains at TaikKaLarr and also to visit the Mya Seinn Taung  pagoda’ the KyaikHtiHsaung pagoda at ZokeThoke and maybe the NwarrLaBo. Hill pagoda, places I haven’t been to. However, I was sent by my company to work at the AD-1 Drilling rig in Phichit, northern Thailand and I missed seeing LZW and the trip. Instead, I planned to travel around Thailand after finishing my duty till 28th March and arranged for Pyone to come on the 20th.

After finishing my last night duty on the morning of 20th March 2011, I went to Bangkok as early as possible to meet Pyone who came with the morning MAI flight. The ETA was 10:20 and I had told her to wait for me till 2 pm. When I got to Suvannabhumi airport at noon, I did not see her at the rendezvous point and phoned my office to find out whether she had contacted them. On hearing she did not, I asked the Information about the MAI flight and learned that it had landed at 11:45 and I knew I have to wait at least half an hour for her. She told me later that those who came on board late were several youngsters! MAI has a reputation of waiting for VIP passengers!!!

Thus, instead of visiting Thuwunnabhumi, I got to Suvannabhumi airport 3 times!

We went from Suvannabhumi airport to Mo Chit bus terminal and got on the first bus to Chiang Mai. It passed through Nakhun Sawan, the town near where I had worked at 2 oil exploration wells. After having dinner beyond Nakhun Sawan, we reached Chaing Mai bus terminal at 3 a.m. The tuk tuk man offered to take us to Rux Thai, a guest house and when he showed me the location on the map, I knew it is not far from the night bazzarr and agreed to go there and have a look. My colleague Moe Ko Oo had suggested the Night Bazzarr Inn to me and I planned to go there if we are not satisfied with the one the tuk tuk man took us to. The price and room was acceptable and we checked in. I also booked the tour to Chiang Rai, the Golden triangle and the long neck village before going to the room. I had tried to book the trip on line earlier, but as I did not have any account, I could not make any payment and was unable to book. We were to be collected at 7 a.m. but breakfast was unavailable anywhere nearby prior to the time. We ordered breakfast at the guest house at 7. The tour guide arrived just as coffee was served and I told the receptionist to have our breakfast packed. We had coffee and took the breakfast packets and followed the guide. There were several people already on the minibus. We went to several places and more got on till at one place, the guide told us that a person will come and we waited till he arrived. The minibus was full and off we went to Chiang Rai. It would take the whole day and the return would be late at 8:30 p.m.

The first stop was at the Mae Khajan hot water springs and then we were shown the Wat Rong Khun / White temple. We passed through Chiang Rai and got to Mae Sai. There we went on a boat trip on the Mekong to view the Golden Triangle together with another small group.

The Golden Triangle was one of the world’s infamous places where opium and heroin were produced and traded once. They were traded with gold and the area was a no man’s land at the junction of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, thus the name Golden Triangle.

Laos is the other shore at the place where we got on the boat in Mekong river and there is a large sitting Buddha on the Thai side not far from the jetty. Once past it, the Thaung Yinn river enters the Mekong. It flows from south to north and on the other side of the Thaung Yinn is Myanmar. Beyond the place where the Thaung Yinn joins the Mekong is Myanmar on the west side and Laos on the east. Not far from the junction is the Golden Triangle Hotel on Myanmar soil. It was built and operated by a Thai group and there is a casino as with the Andaman Resort on the ThaHtay Kyunn near Kawthaung. Both Myanmar andThailand have anti gambling laws but it is strictly enforced in Thailand so Thais operate and gamble on Myanmar soil!

Myanmar is a strange country where breaking laws seems to be a national past time. We can jaywalk, sell on platforms, honk horns in prohibited Yangon, play 2 and 3 digit Chae lottery openly, operate casinos, launder black money easily, etc.  It has been called “Burma, the land where men wear skirts and women smoke cigars”. Of course Myanmar men wear longyis / sarongs and Myanmar ladies smoke large cheroots, not cigars. However, we have witnessed: Myanmar’s way to Socialism, in which Socialism is explained in Buddhist terminology; 15, 25, 35, 45, 75 and 90 Kyat notes; the Sitt Hman Tae. Democracy; a unique country where everyone should visit, not only for the hospitality of the people, but also for the unspoilt beaches, the many wonders including the long neck people, the Kayans, which Thailand is using as a tourist attraction because they find Thailand a better place to live (also do the millions of Myanmar workers).

There is a Chinese operated economic zone in Laos and it is still unfinished. After it is open, much trade and profits will pass through Laos!

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