March 15th - Northern Thailand Tour
On route to Chang Khong to start our Mekong river trip, we decided to join a small tour that was headed up that way. A full day of exploring (by air-con van that is) took us north past Chiang Rai to Mae Sai (which is the most northerly tip of Thailand).
Along the way we visited the 'White Temple' (a modern 'artsy' creation), saw some wild monkeys and walked around Mae Sai (of course did some bargain shopping at the Myanmar (Burma) border where there was gobs of "stuff" mainly from China (brought down thru Burma).
We finished our day visiting the "Golden Triangle" at Sop Ruak. We shacked up for the night in the rivertown of Chiang Saen before crossing the border/river into Laos the next day.
Sop Ruak is the actual official 'triangle' point created by the two rivers, Mekong and Mae Nam Sai, which meet and separate the three countries. The 'Golden Triangle' itself refers to the massive northern area 1000s of sq. kms. Opium (called Black Gold) was often traded for real gold, thus leading to the 'Golden' tag name of the region.