The Golden Triangle
Outside of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand once (and still does) had a very infamous reputation. Where the Mekong River and Ruak River meet is an area call the Golden Triangle. It is the meeting point of three countries - Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. It was also once the opium and heroin capital of the world. However nowadays it has become a tourist destination. The area was named the Golden Triangle for two reasons. First, the three nations that meet there form a triangle. Secondly, back in the day a kilogram of opium would trade for a kilogram of gold. Hence the name Golden Triangle. Our visit there consisted of a river trip along the Mekong River and a quick stop in Laos. Our stop in Laos was in a designated "Special Economic Zone" where foreign visitors can visit a small area of shops and casinos without the need for a visa. Though not heavy on the cultural experience, the Special Economic Zone has some interesting items for sale. One of the items we were given a free sample of and subsequently bought was Laotian rice whiskey cured with either a cobra and scorpion, ginseng and turtle, or a tiger penis. Sarah went for the cobra whiskey and me the tiger penis. The tiger penis is suppose to enhance male virility while the cobra whiskey is good for increasing female fertility. Of course there is no science behind any of the claims (a modern day snake oil - literally). However, it is, and I'm using a horrible cliche here, and ancient Chinese remedy. Though we didn't get our passports stamped and had only a glimpse of what Laotian life is like, we can put another notch on the proverbial belt of travels.