The Golden Triangle – August 2001

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Maesai Artillery Strike

While other destinations seem to thirst for action, it seems Maesai is one of those places that attracts attention. Well, the spotlight remains on Maesai even now, August 2001.

For those that are not sure where we are at, we are situated on the Burma border, in the heart of the Golden Triangle, the Drug Triangle, the Rebel territory …the land has many names, but often the same story. War, strife and banditry are common in this area, but the area still attracts tourists.

With the Maesai marketplace expanding into Maesai from Burma, one really doesn’t need to go to the other side, if you came to go on a shopping spree. For that matter, include China, you don’t need to go to China to purchase Chinese goods, most of the merchants setting up shop are from Burma and most of their goods come from China. So, now you can just come to Maesai to do shopping in three countries.

The border has now reopened, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how long it will stay open. Let’s recap the closures:

  • Last year, the border closed for about two months due to the student takeover of the Burmese embassy in Bangkok

    Tank at the border

  • The entire borderline was shut down, to include cancellation of fishing rights to Thais in the Andaman Sea in the south.

  • This year, from Feb. 11th thru mid-June, due to the artillery strike between Maesai Thai Army and Tachilek, Burma’s Army positions.

    Getting back to the attractions of Maesai, one can once again cross the border for the day or up to two weeks. Visas can be obtained upon entry to the Burmese side. One still cannot travel to the interior places such as Mandalay, Pagan, Rangoon, or Taungghi or any of the gem mining sites. But, good news, you can still go to Keng Tung, Mong La and Mong Yong. However, when you reach Mong La, at the China border, you still CANNOT cross into China, but you can wave at the authorities on the Chinese side, who will promptly use the only English word they know, “NO!!”

    Now, more good news is that through our Chinese connection and guide service into Yunnan, you can be shuttled to Jing Hong of Xishuanbanna of Yunnan province by boat on the Mekhong river. For further news updates contact Chinese John or the Kobra at

    Apart from the shelling that took place, Maesai can be a quiet peaceful place to visit with breathtaking countryside not far away on both sides of the border. Also inviting is that Laos in not that far away either, so for those on a tight schedule, one can actually do three countries in one day, or for those speedy individuals, can do it in under two hours!

    Quickest way to Maesai, fly to Chiang Rai, then taxi to the border. Or take the overnight VIP bus and save a night’s expenses. There’splenty of room on the VIP 999 bus, arriving at around 6 a.m., just in time for our great selection of best breakfast this side of the border and real fresh coffee brewed in the infamous Golden Triangle! We have the best coffee in Maesai at the King Kobra Guesthouse and Inn! Visit our coffee plantation on both sides of the border as an added attraction.

    Maesai also boasts it’s thriving antique and textile trade. Antiques come in both old and new…so, buyer beware! Gems, well, even though we have the best rubies in the world coming in from Burma, one can even be coaxed into buying a would be ruby or sapphire from Africa’s Madagascar mines….again buyer beware! For latest gem info, in the Maesai gem marketplace, email:

    Maesai Valley
    Maesai is a good base location to travel to the three or four countries, visit nearby caves, feed monkeys, catch bats in caves (a Professor from Holland has found a new species of bat with the aid of the Kobra, I also brought him midnight sandwiches and a coke!), and one must not forget the hilltribes nearby waiting to pose for a photo beside the road! Or, you can venture deeper than the average tourist and catch them in their true habitat, some still smoking opium and some still dancing with the Shaman of the village.

    Speaking of Shamen, for those spiritual individuals, the best Shaman in these parts is actually in Keng Tung, Burma. Get details at the King Kobra. We also have his book of magic spells and readings, not for misuse of course. White magic only, no black magic.

    If you happen to come into the area, we are looking for different ways to help the needy…and there are many. We look for baby clothes, or even old clothes and medicine. Donations are accepted, and we are now looking to provide school material for a refugee camp in the hills. All visits are welcomed.

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