After an incredible time in the mountains surrounding Mae Chan, in Chiang Rai province, I decided to continue moving, and made my way to the northern most part of Thailand. I hopped a ride with friends, Nom and Patchalee, up to the Mekong river, where I set up base camp at The House Of Opium (opium museum owned by Patchalee), for a couple days. I was able to see Burma and Laos from the river bank in front of our house.
There is no better way to travel a foreign land than to do so with locals. I have been lucky enough to have friends who live throughout Thailand continue to pass me off to one-another. Not sure how I would navigate the crazy streets, sky trains, and subways of Bangkok, all the way through to the small mountain villages in the north without them. Because of their hospitality, I have had the opportunity to dive straight into Thai culture, which lucky for us includes eating at some of the best back-road restaurants, as well as posting-up in roots locations.
Nom and Patchalee wanted to give me a closer look at Burma, so I took a boat up the river. It is possible to take the river all the way to China, but I decided to save that mission for another time. After a quick stop along the Burma shoreline, we turned around and headed down-stream to visit Laos for the afternoon.
The small section of Laos we landed on was set-up as a trade zone, where vendors were selling some pretty radical items including a wide assortment of fermented cobra, viper, and scorpion liquor, as well as opium pipes and other dope paraphernalia.
Interesting to see how the fermented reptile alcohol is made, looks and smells pretty rugged. I don’t drink or use any drugs at all, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have a glass.
Most of the opium pipes are made out of animal bones. Some of them have very detailed engravings, making them nice decorative art pieces.
After lunch I headed back to Thailand where I stayed the night, before heading south the next morning.
The last couple photos are of friends sending hot air balloons into the sky to wish everyone a happy long life. The balloons went so high that they eventually blended in with the stars, so I hope it’s a good sign of things to come.