The Golden Triangle
Despite being in the most peaceful location, the owners' old dog spent a couple of hours crying till around 11pm. Not sure what was wrong but in the end resorted to ear plugs to dull the noise.
We were at breakfast at 8am and enjoyed freshly baked bread, homemade strawberry jam, fresh orange juice, real coffee and a choice of western or Thai breakfast. I went for the bacon and poached eggs whilst the others had rice porridge and declared it to be the ideal cycling food.
We were on the road by 10am for the flat 16 km ride to Sop Ruak. We picked up the dedicated cycle path at the roundabout and for a while enjoyed a completely separate path. It then joined the main road from Chiang Saen and remained a dedicated bike path as shown by the bicycle stencils on the shoulder. It was just like any other Thai road so not sure of the significance of the stencils.
We arranged to meet Jonno at the Hall of Opium, a specially constructed museum dedicated to the history of Opium. It was fascinating. We entered through a long tunnel built into the mountains with sculptures along the wall showing the agony caused by opium addiction. There was lots in English using an interesting mix of video and text. The museum covered European trade and its interaction with southeast Asia, China, the East India Company and the Opium wars. It looked at the production of Opium and the impact of addiction. It was harrowing at times and very well done. We spent almost two hours there. At the end we hopped in a little bus that drove us back to the entrance where we had left our bikes.
As we cycled back into town we could look across the Ruak River to the shores of Myanmar. There were heaps of tour buses largely catering for Chinese groups.
Ian, one of the hotel owners, had recommended Mekong Pizza so that was our lunch stop. It was good pizza too, with a thin crispy crust.
After lunch we cycled back to the "official" location of the Golden Triangle as demonstrated by a dedicated archway with views of Myanmar on one side and Laos on the other. From there Simon and Georgia headed back to the hotel so Georgia could get some study done whilst Jonno and I enjoyed an hour-long Thai massage for about $9 each. It was great with at least half the time spent massaging our tight leg muscles.
We then treated ourselves to a coconut ice cream before returning to the hotel for a swim. Simon spent time working on the bikes, cleaning and lubricating the chains and pumping up the tyres so we were all ready for the next leg of our tour.
We enjoyed a beer on our little patio and another glorious sunset before dinner. We had chatted to Francesca, an Argentian girl working in Italy whilst at the pool and she joined us for dinner, sharing her travel stories with us. Dinner consisted of a fish soup, chicken curry, mixed vegetables and omelette. All very nice but possibly not as good as the previous night.