On August 24th 1981 I was in Chiang Saen in northern Thailand, travelling with Mary.
On this day, our last day before heading south, we hired bicycles and made a tour of some of the hill villages in the area. We rode through largely unspoilt country, paddies, cassava plantations, bananas, lovely Thai villages, a Lao village, an Akha village. I remember eating soup at a good lunch-stand in the Thai village of Wiang Keo. The Akha village was a small place, a few long, low bamboo and thatch houses, spread around a little slope. The people became more friendly once they realised we didn't want to buy opium. More than anything else the trip was nice for the peace and quiet and the best chance yet to see some fairly unspoilt Thai scenery, the workers in the fields usually happy to smile when greeted, the children always; the clothes blue mainly with large blue hats and tied-up trouser legs.
|Hill Village: Our picture|
We stayed by the Mae Kong a little way away from the town. The river was very peaceful with Laos straight across the river. For such a large river it was surprising to see so little traffic: in fact we can hardly have seen more than four or five small boats in our time there. Further upstream you could catch a glimpse of Burma. Many of the people around seemed to come originally from different places or countries, like the people in the hill villages we visited. Our landlady was Burmese, married to a Thai, and smoked a cheroot incessantly.
The town of Chiang Saen was also quiet and rural. It was full of ruins, mainly ruined temples. Crumbling walls ran around much of the city. We walked along one of these to another ruined temple, Tat Chom Kitti, going up a hill with a beautiful rural view out over the paddies, the hills and the distant river. Walking around the town at night I felt I was really in Asia.
|In a Hill Village: Our picture|
|Roadside Food: Our picture|
|Chiang Saen: Our picture|