Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chiang Saen: Land of the Golden Triangle

Broadly speaking, there are 2 main streets in the town of Chiang Saen, one of the more northern provinces of Thailand. One street runs parallel to the Mekong and the other that runs perpendicular and hosts the bus station, key temples and the market. But, don’t let its size fool you as this is the Land of the Golden triangle.

Ruins of Wat Pa Sak, Chiang Saen, Thailand
There are many things about this place that you will like. The place is very quiet even during the busiest part of the day (I am sitting by the road of this town and writing this post). The mighty Mekong river has a huge influence to the landscape and the living here. Just sitting near it feels heavenly. The place used to exist as a large city in its heydays and then was an important military post for Thailand. It saw the Burmese army ransacking it many times and after a lot of wars, the entire city was burnt down and people moved elsewhere. Then, a century back, people from Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Lampong were asked to re-settle in this town and make it the town that it is today.

Chinese Temple at Chiang Saen, Thailand
From Chiang Saen, if you look beyond the Mekong, you see the country of Laos, there are immigration checkpoints everywhere. If you wish, you can enter Laos by simply taking a 2 minute boat ride. For the Thailand government, it is an important base for import and export of goods from China and over the Mekong. For the tourists, it is the Golden triangle. For the locals, it is a sum total of all of the above. For me, it is one of my more favorite places in Thailand.

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