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Archive for November 2nd, 2012

The Golden Triangle Revealed

Posted by TravellingStrom on November 2, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

I actually woke up OK, and had some brekky, where I saw some stuff that reminded me of home, and some more teak carvings ๐Ÿ™‚

I did some blog stuff then later in the morning I went for a ride. I first headed east about 6km where there is a new Friendship Bridge being built. This will eventually replace the ferry service they are using as a border crossing at this time,(and also incidentally remove the price gouging cost of a trip across 100m of water). This project has been under way for a few years and will be the major road transport link that has been missing for so long. At the time I saw it, the spans had joined in the middle and the Customs/Immigration terminal was about half finished. As the Laos people drive on the right and Thailand on the left, there is a large figure 8 road approach which means you will be on the correct side of the road when you enter either country. Hard to describe, it is best seen from the air, or from this picture linked from the net, from this web page, It is the green bit on the left hand side of the river

Entering the traffic changeover section, the figure 8 is the other side of this final ticket stamp check point.

The bridge itself, on top, under and from either side.

The shanty town for the bridge workers, right next to the bridge, hard to pull a sickie here and go fishing and not get caught!!!!!

Next on the agenda was to go get my starter switch cleaned out. I had talked to a man yesterday near the hotel and he had some contact cleaner which I hoped would help. As it turned out, it was all to no avail, after stripping it down and doing a good clean, it was the same as before, intermittent, bummer man ๐Ÿ˜ฆ He did not want any money, so he got a nice little Koala bear for his help ๐Ÿ™‚ So, after the bike started I was going to visit the Golden Triangle, this was about 50km or so to the west taking the 1129, and it was a fun road, some parts by the river, some twisties, the lot ๐Ÿ™‚ Even the beginning of a new temple, only the head to start with, but I am sure in a few years, this head will be golden and perched 20m or so up on the rest of the body ๐Ÿ™‚

When I got to the town of Chiang Saen, I stopped for a quick lunch, fuel and some directions. It was only 8km to the small town of Golden Triangle, an easy find as it stood out like dogs balls!!!

Yep, it was a full on tourist location. But I had been told there is a fair bit to see, and there was. This location is where the Mekong and Ruak rivers meet and is the junction between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar:
wikipedia:The Golden Triangle (เธชเธฒเธกเน€เธซเธฅเธตเนˆเธขเธกเธ—เธญเธ‡เธ„เธณ), locally called “Sop Ruak”, is where the Mekhong meets the Ruak River and also where the borders of three countries, Laos, Burma and Thailand, meet together. There are remains of many ancient places and structures attesting to the area having been settled by people in the past. Chiang Rai province’s Golden Triangle bordering Laos and Burma was once the hub of opium production which had much influence on cultural practices and lifestyles. Until this day, entire clans live together in bamboo houses and each village has its own individual character.

Whenever I heard the term Golden Triangle, it always conjured up drugs to my mind, as in smuggling and the growing of opium. It is still going on now and an offer is never far away from some of the ‘locals’. Now though, it is the tourist trade for which this small village/town relies on, and it is a shiny and clean place ๐Ÿ™‚ I spent an hour or so wandering around checking out the sights, mostly religious, but nice to see ๐Ÿ™‚ This little fat Buddha was a happy chappy as you can see from the smiles, what you cannot hear is his laughter as coins are thrown into the cone shaped sections, both down here and up behind me. The coins roll down these long tubes and go into his belly, so he is fat and happy ๐Ÿ™‚

Here is a selection of images I captured in the area.

This map shows the area quite well, the white road comes down the right hand side through Laos from China, and crosses the Mekong into Thailand at Chiang Khong where I am staying.

Some more images.

So, I was walking around and decided to check out the tat shops, pretty much all that you would expect, Tshirts, clothing, fridge magnets etc etc but what got me going were stickers, finally I found some, and this lady had 3 that I needed, for Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, well done miss, thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

So, I headed back towards Chiang Khong and stopped at this golf ball, huge it was!! There were people inside, it looked like a workshop, but when I enquired why the shape, they said it was an old air force radar dome, and you can still see the H on the pavement for the helicopter ๐Ÿ™‚

These things are all over the place here on the side of the road, it did not take me long to work out what they are, rubbish bins, every house has one and public ones are on the streets as well, they get cleaned out quite regular.

AS I continued east I found a real old Wat and although it was in very bad condition, it still seemed to be in use, by the evidence inside.

Some of the road here was not the best, the cars will take you on for the smoothest ride, I have learnt by now, restrain the middle digit and move over, but swear loudly in my helmet ๐Ÿ˜‰


As I came to the junction of the 1129 and a very minor road, the 4049, I spotted a couple of extremely large overgrown people and a pig half hidden in the grass, I am at a loss to explain it, so I won’t ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then I had the enjoyable task of doing some more nice twisty riding as I continued back, and there were some nice views along here, with one official lookout ๐Ÿ™‚

So I got back and had a shower before heading for a beer. I had been thinking of doing the visa run across to the Laos side as today was my last day allowed. I costed the process of going, as compared to the fines for not going, and decided it was cheaper to do what I did today, pay the penalty for the overstay, then head to Laos in the morning. The ferry cost was the major factor as it would mean three trips across(including tomorrows)It was a saving of about $20, not a great deal, but that is a room and a beer or two ๐Ÿ™‚ Dinner tonight was stir fried chook and vegies with rice for dinner by the Mekong, with beer, what more can you ask for ๐Ÿ™‚

I had a quiet and early night, tomorrow I wanted to go visit a green Buddah before crossing into Laos, then ride about 180km north to a town in the north of that country, I had a GPS position of a place to stay and some food and beer POIs(Point Of Interests) ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheers from Chiang Khong

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