After Chiang Rai we went further North to the Golden Triangle. Here the Mekong divides and defines the borders with Myanmar and Laos. It’s a huge river with lots of interesting ships going up and down under Laotian flags mostly. The town on the Thai side is called Sop Ruak. The place that is famous for its opium production. It has been one of the biggest opium-producing areas in the world. Those years are gone, now there is a huge Opium Museum, the secluded Wat Sop Ruak temple where tourists come for a visit and where we spent the night, the border market with handicrafts and little (but long) boats that ferry locals and non-locals to visit Laos for a day or gamble in the casino on the other side of Mekong river.
We spent the day walking through the town, visiting non-touristy parts with much lower prices on food and fruit, sitting by the majestic Mekong and enjoying the sunset over a few instant coffees which we cooked with the help of the free 7-eleven hot water kettle 🙂
After spending the night at Wat Sop Ruak, we continued to the border town Mae Sai which is known for its huge market where goods are brought from Myanmar, Laos and China. Incredible prices, but all made in China. Lucky Sascha wont have to carry any additional load :). From Mae Sai we decided to visit beautiful Wat Phrathat Doi Tong. A temple on top of a mountain range with an advertised view overlooking Northern Thailand and the border with Myanmar. According to the map it was around 25 km from Mae Sai. We took a back road towards the temple and started to hike around lunchtime, thinking that we will have no issues catching a ride up there. But after an hour of walking in almost 40C not a single car passed by. Only 2 policemen on their motorcycles checking the surroundings. They stopped to take a photo, I ran over to them and 2 minutes later we were on motorcycles behind the policemen driving back to the town’s bus station. The road turned out to be very unpopular (despite being in excellent condition)and walking 20km in the heat felt too difficult. We took a bus for a short while and then caught a truck that was carrying sand to a construction site right at the temple. Lucky us!