Sleep Sweet Sleep

written Sept. 21, 2017

Tourists in Northern Thailand flock to the convergence of the Mekong and Mai Klong Rivers in expectation of experiencing the notorious Golden Triangle. Most express deep disappointment that there aren’t any opium dens from which they can watch the flow of the Mekong River. A few harass the riverside shop owners for a taste.

“Four hours on a bus and all I can buy is a tee-shirt.”

“Tee-shirt good. Say you come here.”

Bann Sop Ruak was a tourist trap, although years ago you could sit in the bungalows of Chiang Saen 10 kilometers to the south and smoke yourself into a narcotic coma for weeks on end.

In 1991 I stayed at a guesthouse along the Mekong. $5 a night for a bamboo shack. I was writing a novel about pornography. The owner supplied opium. It was good for my dreams.

A Japanese tourist hadn’t emerged from his room for two weeks. The owner and I thought that he might be dead and knocked on the door. A groan was followed by footsteps. The door opened with a creak. The Japanese backpacker was whiter than a mushroom. He smiled and said, “Mai pen arai.”

“No problem.” The owner shrugged his shoulders without the slightest sign of condemnation.

It was low season. I don’t think the Jap ever got to Baan Sop Ruak. He had found his Golden Triangle in a 100baht/night bungalow.

I’ll find mine again when I’m in my 80s.

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