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Doi Mae Salong - Scott's Perspective
Share this: I’ll always remember my first visit to the semi-far-flung, northern Thai town of Doi Mae Salong. I’d just moved to Thailand with my business partner in late 1999 to develop a specialized travel company. We were in the kingdom’s northernmost province Chiang Rai looking for trip ideas and met a hippy-type who recommended renting scooters and driving 75km NW of the city, along what he described as “very exciting roads”. We rented 110cc Hondas, pocketed a map and hit the road. A secondary country road gradually climbed before reaching a windy unpaved track that cut its way along the spine of a mountain ridge, like a snake slithering across its top. Things quickly got steep and required maximum concentration, even for someone who’s driven a motorcycle since ten-years-of-age. Fourteen challenging and mind-blowingly-beautiful kilometers later we crested a ridge and terraced tea fields revealed themselves, blanketing every hillside. The effect was captivating with a cornucopia of greens; more shades than I previously believed existed, satiating the senses. After settling in to our room, some exploration revealed a rich social canvas. As recently as the early 1980s this town was prime opium country and a communist holdout. Thai authorities, with support from the US Drug Enforcement Agency, were keen to eradicate the drug and communists. In came today’s residents – Chinese immigrants, mostly Kuomintang from the southern Yunnan region. They’d fled Mao’s revolution, settled in Northern Myanmar, got kicked out of there, and in the late 1970s made their way …