Sipping the Chinese Tea in the Golden Triangle, Thailand
Today it’s tea farms, hilltop bungalows, and a stream of tourists coming up for crispy Chinese pork, mountain-top temples, and long views into Myanmar. But behind the knowing, betel-stained smiles of the men that greet you in Doi Mae Salong is a less placid history—one that embodies every element of Golden Triangle rowdiness. It started with a group of Chinese anti-Maoist fighters who fled into Burma as nomadic insurgents after the 1949 communist revolution. From there it was constant battles with the Burmese, flights across the border (to this snug summit settlement), a reward of Thai citizenship for fighting Thailand’s own communist uprising in the 1970s, an explosive hold in the violent border opium trade, and eventually, amazingly, serenely, a Yunnanese mountain town of tourism and tea.