We wanted some fresh air after pin-balling around the busy streets of Chiang Mai, so we took a bus five hours up-country to stay with Preeya’s family friend, Kusumal, in her secluded mountain town resort (Suk Santi) north of Mae Chan.
Kusumal manages an important part of an organization called Not For Sale, a group devoted to stopping human trafficking in the region. Most of the trafficking is of Burmese children, who are left homeless without any family or identity, and sold on the sex market.
We haven’t seen another tourist since we arrived a few nights ago, and all of the locals have been incredibly friendly and hospitable. The area is located in a green valley at the base of a 6,000 foot mountain range and is part of The Golden Triangle.
Kusumal let us borrow her motorbike and we have spent each day trailblazing every back-road and footpath we have come across. The exploration has lead us to some roots self-sustaining mountain villages, hidden temples, and some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen.
We have had a radical time. Got lost in the dark on a busy highway during a torrential downpour over an hour away from our house, and putted up a mountain above the clouds to visit beautiful gardens.
The Golden Triangle is one of Asia’s main opium-producing areas. It is an area of around 367,000 square miles that overlaps the mountains of four countries of Southeast Asia: Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Opium and heroin base produced in northeastern Myanmar (Burma) are transported by horse and donkey caravans to refineries along the Thailand–Burma border for conversion to heroin. Most of the finished products are shipped across the border into various towns in North Thailand and down to Bangkok for further distribution to international markets.
The same fertile grounds that produce the bounty of poppies needed to keep up with the worlds opium addiction are also perfect for growing some of the most flavorful organic fruits and vegetables I’ve ever eaten. Additionally, all of the freshwater fish, beef, poultry, and pork are free range, organic, and delicious.
Every dish we’ve had from each street vendor, open-air market, and local restaurant has been amazing. Each flavor is powerful, clean, and all-natural.
There are no preservatives or packaged ingredients added to any dish. Those who have had the opportunity to eat in this region claim it’s the best food in all of Thailand. It’s a dream come true for a couple food lovers.
Around each bend is another beautiful site and less-traveled road to explore. There will never be enough time to see the entire region during our short stay, but we’re doing our best.
Tomorrow we are excited to be heading further north into the mountains to visit another one of Preeya’s family friends who lives and and works at an opium museum along the boarder of Laos and Burma.
Please take a moment to learn more about Not For Sale. Child slavery is a serious global issue. The trading needs to be abolished.