Up-Country Dinner: Golden Triangle - Nov 2010

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by Kiwi Cruiser, Nov 21, 2010.

  1. Kiwi Cruiser

    Kiwi Cruiser Ol'Timer

    Up-Country Dinner - Golden Triangle 20 Nov 2010

    Part I: The Team
    - David & John
    - Pico & Princess Sao
    - Kiwi Cruiser & The Goddess
    - David & Fon, Steve, Phil and Pim

    We arrived at Golden Triangle (Sop Ruak) at 4pm and checked into the Golden Home Guesthouse. TG hit the shower while I topped up on cappucino's at the nearby "Near River" coffee shop. Two coffees later, it was my turn for the shower. David and John, Pico and Sao turned up at the guesthouse before 5pm, and we all arrived at the designated Sriwan Restaurant on time.

    The Mae Chan contingent joined us minutes later, and beverages on the banks of the Mekong were quickly forthcoming.
    Very pleasant it was, with the moon coming up in the background

    A pleasant evening's dining and conversation - those who missed it missed a good night out, as we explored some of the riverside pubs later on.
    An obligatory team photo at the Golden Triangle lookout - "Barbie" looked stunning in her pink jacket.
    - I'm sure David will fill in the blanks there!

    Sunday morning - I should have gone straight home the planned way and done some work. However, that Vulcan's got a mind of its own, and it veered left around the riverside road... and made its way onto 4007.
    The view from the Huai Mann Lookout is always nice!
    The slow boat making hard work of it going upstream.

    So we ended up having a totally unplanned lunch in Chiang Khong. Then, instead of the sensible 1174 to home, another detour took us along 4004, around the river
    The muddy water makes it hard to see the shallows, especially when the sun's in your eyes... All out!!! Push! The boat is hard to see at normal view in the photo above... however, we could hear guys yelling! :)

    The 18x optical zoom really pulls things in close, so you can see whats going on down there!

    Laos village across the Mae Khong...

    This detour took us around to Wiang Kaen, out 1155 and up onto Phu Chi Fah!

    Noodle stop - nice reflection considering the bike's now done 200kms on backroads since its last clean & polish!
    Car park at Phu Chi Fah

    There was a group of entreprenurial children at work here! Aside from the one's selling handcrafts, one young guy proffered his services to TG as a private guide!

    She was touched by his polite and earnest nature, and hired him on the spot!

    Hmong kids posing for tourist's photos... "How much?" - the obligatory, smiling "Up to You"
    TG's Caption for this photo.. "Busy Mum Needs A Sponsor, Ready-Made Family"

    This young lady is going to break some hearts in the coming decade!

    Look west along the ranges.

    The lookout point at Phu Chi Fah
    Stalls at the car park.
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  3. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    It was a very nice evening indeed. The 5 MaeChan contingent really enjoyed it.
    Didnt see Ben & Ann in ChiangKhong but we did meet up with Pico & Sao on our way home along the river road.
    Glad it was set up & those who didn't come did miss a good evening. :happy2:
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    I got away later than anticipated on account of a traffic jam around the east & north sides of the moat - inside & out.
    Nothing unusual for me to be late most of you would say, but the traffic jam was a bad one, caused by a mass of spectators & their vehicles observing a body (1 or 2?) recovery from the moat outside Somphet market / Spicy. Not your everyday occurrence, but I was still amazed at the gawking masses. :roll:

    Anyway JG was patiently & cooly waiting for me on time at the PTT on the R118 super heading North. :thumbup:
    1st stop was 20 kms out for a BMW bag adjustment on the new BMW sport bike, & something that needs to be rectified by the BMW design engineers according to JG. I suggested a 10 baht bungee strap.

    2nd stop was Charin Resort for some life saving cappu & pie. And indeed JG was also highly impressed on his very first CR visit, although he did find the fresh cream disappointing. It was not real fresh cream. Oh well you cant win them all.

    The way over the mountains Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai - Mae Chan - Chiang Saen - Golden Triangle
    and a distance of 255kms from the Kuang Sing intersection.

    Arrival time at the GT was 4.20Pm & just enough time for a quick shower, shave & shine.

    As claimed by "The Mae Chan Contingent" & the Kiwi Cruiser it was a very enjoyable night relaxing, eating drinking & talking shop (bikes & touring) beside the Mekong.

    The better halves

    Two other halves, with Pico getting animated
    it was the Heinekin. Pico I enjoyed your presence & company immensely - it was a good night. :thumbup:

    High Moon Rise over the Mekong.
    Phil & Pim


    For the record, we ate at the Sriwan & the food was excellent. And I expected to eat "elsewhere!"
    The Sriwan's good value for money & with a superb views immediately over the GT! :clap:

    Much later on, down the road at the new Ban Phra Chann Pub & Restaurant.
    in Chiang Saen.

    The Kiwi Cruiser gaining merit with TG

    Breakfast & a foggy morning
    worth getting up for.

    Pico enjoying the good life, with a hot pink babe either side of him.

    A GT panorama

    Whereafter we split up. I headed home via Doi Mae Salong (& lunch at Sweet Mae Salong).

    Thanks for the ride & coming. :thumbup:

    PICO-PICO Ol'Timer

    The ride up to the Golden Triangle was unusually easygoing for the two of us. Almost too silent, I almost missed being reprimand by Princess Sao "SSSSlowly !!", "Caaaaarefully!!", "Are you blind-eyed ??", etc, etc, fortunately slightly muffled by her helmet . I was following the advice to take the straight way up on 118, 1 and 1016, no hairpin curves, no rubble, no excessive inclines, utterly boring for me. We were on time actually better than that, we arrived before anybody else. The room and particularly the bed, a subject always neglected in any hotel review, was really fine. Our dinner, much too short to get to know each other better, was pleasant. I got a glimpse of a subject that came up with Ben= I had only a very rough idea about Doi Mae Salong's history. It was amazing to hear that Doi Mae Salong this rugged unpopulated tiny mountainous turf used to be a microcosm of battle ground for CIA, Communists from China and drug lords and others. Most pleasant and different from other GTR meetings was the company of 4 ladies. Goddess An arrived gliding down on her Kawasaki, while ridding over cobble stone Princess Sao had come along in her sidecar carriage. Looking over the Mekong across to Lao we marveled over the huge Chinese Casino complex, little Chinese Vegas with gambling domes ( and big buildings for readily available Chinese girls I was told later by Chiang Khong-David. He had been there. Farang in the true meaning "Westerners" are most certainly not welcome, not even in the gambling halls. But US $ very much so or RMB.
    Sunday morning after a joint breakfast with Goddess, Ben and David Unk, Sao and I decided that we were not in the mood to ride to the low lands again. Going to Chiang Khong we used the 1129, what a pleasure, scenic, no traffic, going ever so slowly. We say hello to Mei and David in Chiang Kong. David suggested that we take the 1020 to Chiang Rai, where we wanted to stay for the night. You really have to know where to turn off, no chance of seeing it from the Super Highway.
    Again, a very happy choice. OUR road we say when we seem to travel almost alone.
    Arriving in CR at around 7pm I was not in the mood to start searching for a hotel and we went back to the Wiang Inn, expensive tourist place, but good bed. Again too lazy to look around we had dinner at the DaVinci restaurant vis-a-vis. To be avoided, excessively expensive and outright bad quality.
    Monday morning we took off at 10am back to Chiang Mai. The twisty 109 to Fang is a biker's dream.
    The scenery could be breathtaking however because of high thicket along the road visibility is largely hampered.
    Three days and 700 km of pure joy.
  6. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    The Casino also known as the "Kings Roman Entertainment Complex" opposite Chiang Saen has been brought up in a few posts. Went there a few months ago to GPS things and was amazed to find a Chinese "city" complete with Chinese police cars, advertising "activities" with chinese mobile phone numbers, a horse racing track, etc.

    Here are a few pics:

    The casino.

    The Kapok Garden Hotel

    Another thing under construction but no idea what it was supposed to become

    Transport will be arranged for high-rollers.. Hummers, stretch-limo's etc.

    Right next to the hotel options for other activities

    Strange feeling to drive there on a dirt road and then suddenly find yourself on large avenues with flowery names and, when driving onwards, to get back to reality in a Lao village which lies right next to the complex. All the staff is Chinese and apparently they have now also "imported" chinese farmers as local supplies were not up to their standards.

  7. Elkie

    Elkie Member

    Just a quick note from me (Steve) to say thanks for welcoming me, a newcomer, to your meet. I will try and get more involved in the future and I promise to send a Trip Report next time I go out for a run.

  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    :thumbup: thanks Steve.

    PICO-PICO Ol'Timer

    This is becoming more and fascinating, it's a complete take over by China comparable to Hongkong by the British. What Auke tells about Chinese Police etc is just proof of it, for 99 years----no more Laos. The small amount of2,5 billion THB investment are planed for phase 1 to be followed by another staggering onehundred Billion THB. Mind blowing and not one Cent for the Laotian people.

    Read this from the Bkk Post of 2009

    Lao tourism to bring profit, vice

    Special zone sought

    Many in Chiang Rai are expecting a windfall from a potential boom in trade and tourism on the Lao side of the Mekong River where a 100-billion-baht project to develop a major economic and tourism zone is getting under way. Construction of some facilities and infrastructure is nearing completion and they are scheduled to open for business on Sept 9, with up to 10,000 Chinese tourists expected to flock to Laos each day.

    The Lao government has awarded a group of Chinese investors a concession to lease and develop a plot of land covering about 5,169 rai into a major trade and tourism complex. The leasehold period is 99 years.

    The zone is in Ban Ton Phung in Muang Mom town in Bokeo province, opposite Chiang Saen in Thailand.

    Measures are being proposed to make it easier for Chinese tourists to cross from Laos to Thailand to visit Chiang Rai, or to travel to other countries in the region.

    A committee with representatives from Thailand, Laos and China will be set up to develop initiatives for promoting regional tourism.

    Project manager Zhao Wei said the Lao government's state planning and investment committee has awarded the concession to Dok Gneo Kham Group Co to rent and develop the plot, which will be divided into 34 smaller development areas.

    About 2.9 billion baht has been spent on the first-phase of construction. The facilities and infrastructure are close to completion and are expected to open for business on Sept 9.

    The first phase involves reinforcing the banks of the Mekong River, constructing a 10-metre-wide road network around the project area, building a three-storey hotel with more than 120 rooms and a casino, plus a school, a hospital, commercial buildings, a 36-hole golf course and a zone to produce herbal medicines. A duty-free complex will be built on Laos' Don Sao island in the Mekong River.

    Thai businessmen have already set up shops to sell duty-free products there.

    Tourists from mainland China can travel to the zone via the R3, a highway which links southern China to Houayxay town in Laos' Bokeo province, opposite Chiang Khong district in Chiang Rai.

    Tourists can also fly to Chiang Rai and cross the Mekong River into Laos from Chiang Saen .

    From now on, an additional 99 billion baht will be spent on the next phase of the project, which will be completed in 2017.

    The next phase will include an eco- and cultural tourism zone, an agro-industrial and livestock complex, an export hub, an IT and computer complex, a banking and financial services complex, a sports complex, another two golf courses and a logistics centre.

    He said it would benefit other countries in the region, including Thailand, if they work together to ease immigration procedures at border checkpoints in Chiang Rai.

    Mr Zhao said many Chinese tourists who visit Laos do not have passports and carry only border passes, which cannot be used to enter Thailand.

    Chiang Rai deputy governor Surachai Linthong has promised to raise the issue with the authorities. "The border pass issue must be discussed at the government level since Thailand does not share a border with China."

    Somkiat Chuentheerawong, president of the tourism council of Chiang Rai has proposed that a committee with representatives from Thailand, Laos and China be set up to promote regional tourism.

    Mr Somkiat said Chinese tourists from Laos would provide the shot in the arm that Chiang Rai's flagging tourism sector badly needs. He also suggested Chiang Rai be made a special economic zone to pull in more tourists.

    Call for protection

    The sight of an imposing casino complex across the Mekong River in Laos is giving residents of Chiang Saen district in Chiang Rai reason to worry.

    The multi-billion-baht property development by a group of Chinese investors called King Romans Group (KRG) is too close for comfort, some locals said.

    They believed the gambling and entertainment complex will become a source of unchecked vice.

    The complex on the Lao side of the river covers an enormous plot in Ban Ton Phung in Muang Mom town along the Mekong River opposite Chiang Saen. The location is just a few minutes ride from the Burmese border.

    "We are worried about our society, culture and way of life. The adjacent town will become a large-scale entertainment complex that will include a casino, a golf course, and horse and dog racing tracks.

    "All these are vices. What will become of Chiang Saen? What will happen here?" said Nikorn Laowanich, head of the Love Chiang Saen Club.

    Riverside guest houses have been built near the economic zone in Ban Ton Phung in Muang Mom town in the Lao province of Bokeo, opposite Chiang Saen district in Thailand.

    Chiang Saen is the site of many ancient religious and historically important structures. The district boasts rich cultural traditions and some locals think it could be recognised as a World Heritage site.

    But with rapid commercial development under way, there are fears that it could lead to massive land price speculation on the Chiang Saen side of the river.

    The complex will be a magnet drawing all kinds of modern developments and its geographical closeness is likely to make it difficult for the district to withstand the spill-over effects, some native Chiang Saen people said.

    They feel potential problems are looming on the horizon and the authorities should ramp up efforts to protect local heritage. Mr Nikorn said at least 70 ancient temples and holy sites are at risk from a possible invasion of real estate businesses in a rush to buy up property in the district which could be used as a major jump-off point for the entertainment complex in Laos.

    Mr Nikorn said zoning should be implemented to designate the historical sites away from commercial areas.

    "Local people know well that we cannot stop modern property development. What is happening is not on our soil but in our neighbour's backyard.

    "But it is separated from us only by the Mekong River. In the future, tourists will surely arrive in Chiang Saen before crossing to the Lao side.

    "It will be wrong for us to sit idly by knowing what will happen. Chinese people who have crossed to this side told Chiang Saen people a second Macau is being built. This is early enough warning for us," Mr Nikorn said.

    Boontham Tipprasong, chairman of neighbouring Mae Sai district's Chamber of Commerce, said Chinese investors plan to build a cable car to link Muang Huay Phueng and Chiang Saen.

    He deplored the idea and said it would be an eyesore.

    Lert-anant Yavichaikaew, a Chiang Saen local with close ties to the Chinese investors, said a casino and shophouses would open on Sept 9 on the Lao side.

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