For the past three days, Wendy and I have been in northern Thailand in the "Golden Triangle" area, (where Thailand, Burma, and Laos meet, and home to the formerly quite lucrative opium trade).
This is our second trip to Thailand, and again we've been impressed by the warmth and friendliness of the Thai people. Shown below are some two-year olds eating chocolate and bread sticks.
We stayed at Anantara, which has an elephant training camp (the elephants were domesticated and used in the now illegal logging industry). A high point was riding the elephants at sunrise, and also watching them bath in the river, and then feeding them. What personalities these gals have!
One day we toured a number of hill tribe villages where things have changed significantly in the last 15 years with the arrival electricity and good paved roads. Below is an Akha woman with her five month old baby (in front of her house). She seemed very happy.
We also toured Doi Tung, a mountain with spectacular views of the surrounding hillside. Most impressive was the extensive Mae Fah Luang flower gardens with floral species from the world over. These were built by the Thai Princess Mother to create economic opportunities (jobs) for the hill tribes. I've never anything quite like these gardens (this photo shows just a very small portion of the grounds).
We also visited the Opium Museum (Hall of Opium built for the Thai royal family) which graphically details the history, benefits, and horrors of opium use from the ancients on through to today. Especially moving is the long semi-darkened cave-like entry way which is filled with bas-reliefs depicting the agonies and hallucinations of the opium experience.
One of the most peaceful hours we spent was at this Buddhist temple in a forest monastery near the historic old city of Chiang Saen.