This lively area was once the epicenter of the opium trade in SE Asia, and so we stopped at an Opium Museum which was full of interesting artifacts and information. One display case had a wax figure of a man sleeping in an opium den surrounded by his paraphernalia. Astoundingly, on a bench right next to this display slept an older gentleman, as if demonstrating in real life. He was deeply asleep as curious people streamed around him and took his picture too!
We next boarded a farmers rice truck, used locally to carry workers out to the rice paddies. It literally had to be started with a hand crank, and once it chugged along it sounded like a sputtering lawn mower. We drove way out into the countryside on ever-narrowing dirt roads, through sleepy villages and miles of green rice paddies. Our destination was lunch at a country home owned by a French woman artist, totally charming and everything painted by her in a primitive style. They barbecued for us, fish, pork or chicken that had marinated overnight in a savory sauce. It was fabulous, and we also met the woman who us Lada's boss here, the head of OAT in Thailand. She is a sweetheart, and we told her that Lada walks on water and thay she was perfection as a guide. (she is!).
Finally we returned to the town where we left our van, which is also known for its teas. Lada took us to a small outdoor tea shop where a very handsome and sexy young man brewed about six pots of his best teas for us and we sampled them in tiny cups, while nibbling on mixed dried fermented fruits: plums, cherries, tiny tomatoes, berries, and more.
It seems like we nibble all day long. This morning Lada opened a bag of "pork chips", crispy deep fried pork slices, the consistency of potato chips, but they taste just like slightly sweet bacon. Oi choi oi! (Our favorite new expression, meaning "oh my Buddha!" Just like when we say " oh my God". Spelling is wrong, but phoenetics are good.
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