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  1. #1
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    Mai Sot thoughts

    Mae Sot can be a fun place. It's certainly changed a great deal over the last twenty years. It used to be totally lawless town, anything went. It's better controlled now and the dodgy stuff isn't as flamboyantly run as it used to be.
    There's even a Tesco/Lotus there now, nice set up too.

    Plenty of decent accommodation in and just out of town, I have some photographs I'll put up asap, nice bungalows for about Bt500 per night.
    There's a decent {very decent }hotel just a couple of miles outside of town, everything going beautiful place, swimming pool all the lot, prices were very fair if I remember correctly, Central Hillside Hotel from memory (and that's fading). Good food, all the trimmings!

    In Myawaddi, there are some good bargains, especially on old British antiques if you feel that way inclined. The gems are cheap too, but I suppose you need to know what you are buying. I don't really understand the values, so I'm a bit hesitant in laying out for what could be a piece of flash glass?

  2. #2
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    DK Hotel in Mae Sot, I think you can Google it too, a real nice cheapy, old world appearance, very clean!

    See the memory cells are returning!

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    The nearest I've been is Mae Hong Son. It didn't really feel Thai to me at all.
    Large Chinese trading/ contraband trading community. They had most of the money.
    Local mix of mainly burmese and hill tribe. Whole different feel to the place.
    Quite liked it though. How does Mae Sot compare to the rest of Thailand?
    probes Aliens

  4. #4
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    I suppose you could say it doesn't unless you compare it to other Burmese trading border towns.

    There are so many characters from all walks of life and different countries, it's rather difficult to imagine that you are in Thailand at times.

    Mercenaries, reporters, run of the mill wannabees, medics, humanitarians, agents for people trafficking, users of trafficked people. Burmese opposition groups, activists.

    The diversity of people is amazing, Thai, Burmese, Nepalese, Indian, Chinese. Take a walk or sit down for a pavement coffee on Prasatwithi Road any morning and you can see it all. Hmong farmers. All buying and selling. Walk over to the Friendship Bridge, settle down for a while by the balustrade near the large car park. Wow! The traders will find you.

    Everything you can imagine and more, much more besides is on offer. Every type of gem you can imagine on sale, cigarettes a carton of two hundred 'Boss' for Bt100 if you buy enough of them.

    By dusk the food vendors move in en masse a small night market is soon up and running. The Yankee Humvee patrolling up and down fully loaded looks menacing. The night is the real time for 'real smuggling, sex, violence the likes of which is best forgotten about.' Underpaid workers coming and going across the Bridge, across the river to avoid border fees, sixty years of isolation

    Daily killings in and around the town.

    Myawaddi.. I'll get around to talking about that place one of these days.

    Well, maybe I will.
    Last edited by Mathos; 26-10-2007 at 11:53 PM.

  5. #5
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    I love Mae Sot, I still remember when as a newby I arrived in Mae Sot in August 2000... looking for some wasted love over there.

    No, there was no Tesco Lotas nor cheap hotel.... just some dirty guest house.

    After 8 hours bus ride... nothing but just her address in my pocket.... nothing around me... just a dirty bus station.

    I looked behind me.... I said to myself.... ok... after that there is Burma... is the end of this world. How naive... I just was in Thailand since 4 weeks and I was already burned by the sea, by the girl, by the people... but my mind just started to waken up.

    I do think that in Mae Sot I felt myself for the first time doing what I was suppose to do and want to do in the right place in the right time.
    Probably there, without even knowing that, I took decisions inside me that modified totally my life later on.

    The lady was just a bitch, the town was.... how can I say... amazing Far East! The people, the smell, the colors, the dust, the sweet, the fkg dogs barking in the night.

    Few days later I was in Umpium camp to visit refugees, few months later after riding all over Thailand I was again in Mae Sot teaching PC to some Burmese guys hiding there.

    Dam.... I felt so ALIVE in Mae Sot, I met so many crazy people, I miss that.

  6. #6
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    Indeed, the calibre of souls one meets in Mae sot has to be in a unique category of some special rating.

    Simply wanting to know who's who, what's going on and why are they doing this, that, or the other can be a dangerous undertaking. Westerners are quite easily sucked up like floating bubbles into the local events which change like passing of seasons.

    They have a few beers or stronger liquor and relate their own tales of horror, like trying to outdo one another with the 'best goal of the month'

    Can't the stories be fascinating, wholesale slaughter, decapitation, guns, mines, brothers or friends involved in this, that, or the other! Tales of hard men, all of them giants, ex SAS ,ex Legion, even ex Seals would you believe. My my my Delilah..

    The real goings on in Mae Sot and surrounding hills have grown into multi-millions pound business's totally unregulated and yet totally observed.

    The powers that be on both sides of the border know only too well what is what, who is who, oh yes, 'They know what's what, they do' and have a damn good idea as to what each marked hundredweight bag of ***** really conceals.

    It's rather amazing how occidentals arrive there competing for business and thinking they know how to run the show, letting their personal greed push any form of moral to the side, acting like children in a sweet shop.

    Tourists, looking for treks in mine littered areas, hoping for cheap accommodation and pulling their faces in disgust when they see what cheap accommodation really is.

    A twelve hour flight and a few hours drive followed by a trek into the mountains, they have no idea how a man can swap his wife for a few pigs or even less.

    "Are you a journalist?" I was once asked.

    "No" I responded.

    "Good because journalists love sensationalism, what they can't find, they manufacture, rape, murder, drugs, weapons! If you lie to me, {the me is more of a meeeeee} maybe, I can show you death too!"

    Let's go for a walk Chas!

  7. #7
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    I always think of Mae Sot as being a brilliant gateway to either Hell or Paradise.

    The recent problems in Burma {I have this habit of using the name I am most familiar with, Myanmar will no doubt come with time} make it extremely difficult if not impossible to relate some of the tales on a public forum.

    Idle gossip and drunken talk can be a hell of a recipe for disaster.

    I intend remaining cautious in this aspect.


    One thing that is beautiful about the jungles and mountains of this country though, is the virginity of the the same. It's more than a pity to know these hills are battlegrounds, littered with mines.

    In Mae Sot at times, it is possible to drop very lucky and purchase outstanding red star or blue star rubies, sometimes brilliant jade. It is a case of luck though, the majority of the best is ear-marked for Bangkok, never having made it onto the streets.

    Gems are smuggled in clothing, pushed up into the anus, swallowed and some are so large that the smuggler may not be able to pass them and this results in hospitalisation, operations etc. Burmese border guards are suspicious of many, it is not uncommon for them to push a stick up the backside of a suspect and if it touches on anything hard, they have the contraband. Suspects are given strong laxatives without the courtesy of an x-ray. Trial and error is perhaps the name of the game,

    The poor smugglers are at times simply murdered, people disappear and nobody really cares.

  8. #8
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    I've never been to Mae Sot, it seems it's worth to visit.

  9. #9
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    It's a very interestring place to visit Sharon!

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    Thailand Expat reinvented's Avatar
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    i considered a jopb there about 5 years back

    wish i'fd taken it after reading this thread

    nice people met, good level of english spoken, liked the place

  11. #11
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    Yep it's a different place RI, if you don't mind me asking what type of work were you offered over yonder?


    There is a great journey by motorcycle or 4WD to take from Mae Hong Son to Mae Sot, the road is more than interesting, so much so that you {If you are as inquisitive as I am, that is} divert all over the place and in general it's well worth the trouble. You might well find yourself struggling up a sand road into the mountains on the Burmese border, simply because a diversion to a waterfall , cave, or whatever showed up an unmarked road, which after all has to be going somewhere.

    Earlier this year I went high into the mountains off the Mae Hong Son plateau, {don't even think of putting the key in the ignition for this one during the wet season} and eventually came to a very spartan check point and unmarked border crossing. There was nobody about, and I left my 4WD and bobbed under 'Check point Nakum-nowhere' just to see if anyone was running the show.

    Hey the Burmese guys with the old rifles found me first, they were hollering and gibbering pointing their weapons at me. The wife was in the 4WD and I raised my hands like some clown in one of those old spaghetti movies! Then the Thai lads came from out of the jungle carrying aK 47's and thank f*** one of them spoke English a little anyhow!

    Now it soon boiled down to the fact that I had to go back the way I came, but shit I wasn't going to reverse down that mountain track. Between them, they agreed it would be OK to lift the barrier on the Thai side and let me do a ten point turn in the extra room available between the two barriers.

    Back to the road, it's a great trip all the way down to Mae sot, and if you really want fun, carry on along the really winding 'Death Road' to Um Phang, it's fantastic, the area is home to the biggest water fall in Thailand {Nam Tok Thilawsu - It's worth doing a Google on this if you are not aware of it's appearance too, trust me, spectacular! I'll get around to sticking up some of my pics one day, be patient, I drift.}

    Once in the area, you might want to look around for a resort, there are some very basic places in the surrounding hills, don't expect anything fancy though. Then you will need a guide to take you the three hours walk or so to the waterfall, but it's worth every step.

    If you have an interest in this sort of travel it's fantastic, bamboo rafting, white water rafting, working elephant camps!

    A new highway is being built connecting the middle of Thailand up to Umphang and surrounding areas, like all the other places of beauty this will soon be a very major tourist attraction, I'll probably build or buy a flash house in this area in the near future.
    Last edited by Mathos; 13-11-2007 at 05:38 AM.

  12. #12
    Thailand Expat reinvented's Avatar
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    ^

    not at all. i'd just finished a sabbatical( young free and single in those days) and was considering what to do, saw an advert for a teacher at a catholic school on the way to the bridge, nice people and a lot of flippers working there. father took i'll so decided against it and got a proper job instead.

    had the pleasure of working in chiang rai many moons ago so that is what drew me to it
    we won it at wemberlee
    we on it in gay paree...

  13. #13
    I am in Jail
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    I have been in Mae Sot for 6 months or so, Ok, nothing special. Sure lots of refugees and colorful characters, but in reality it is a small town and everyone knows everyone's business. Enough activities to keep you from going stir crazy, but a real lack of variety of things to do.

    Not a bad place to visit, but I wouldn't put it on the top of my list if I was not paid to be here.

  14. #14
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    A.A.

    You probably know the saying 'One man's meat is another man's poison'

    It's how we evolved, differences of likes and dislikes, animal vegetable and mineral!

    You can compare fanny licking to arse licking if you want, I'll take the fanny any day and every day.



    I'm not to sure how I'm fixed for time tonight, I had a busy and late day,. I went for a work out after work and took a sauna and steam after that along with a few lengths. Just back from the gym and had my evening meal, or tea as we refer to it in this neck of the woods.

    Isn't grub grand after a hards day graft, a work out and some leisure?
    The wife had made one of those fancy chicken stew meals, a full chicken chopped up and skinned, with everything in the pot, barley, lentils, celery, carrots, onions, potato's, leeks, butter beans, and some cabbage leaves.

    It saves me entering up on 'What I had to eat today'

    Getting back to the Mae Sot area, well Um Phang actually!

    There is a small airstrip there, right in the middle of a bunch of mountains, limited to specific and particular flyer's {pilots} I was informed.

    I was talking to a mate of mine on the phone earlier today who is in Mae Sot or around it at present and I asked him to see what he could find out about it for me. I'll let you know in due course.

    RI

    Sabbatical and a Roman Catholic school, you must live a good, interesting life! Nice one I like that. Reminds me of the Jesuit Priesthood.


    A.A. Just as a curious bystander, is there any point in me asking you what you do in Mae Sot?

  15. #15
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    Mathos

    Don't get me wrong, Mae Sot is not a bad place, and you are right, for some people it might be an interesting holiday vacation even if I woudn't put it on the top of my list.

    I have been in Thailand for nearly a decade, but only here in Mae Sot for about 6 months or so.

    Currently, I work as a Manager for an "international organization" that works with refugees from Burma. Not a perfect job, but it pays better than my first job here in LOS teaching English in a three letter lanaguage school nearly 10 years ago

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    A.A.

    Thanks for your response. If you are involved in anything beneficial to some of those poor and mis-placed souls I have seen over there, then in my opinion you are worth your weight in gold plus a bit more.

    I can appreciate too that circumstances of better employment may cause you to have to leave a location you were fully satisfied with, relocating in a border town like Mae Sot will definitely have it's draw backs. Any number of personal reasons could also enhance the displeasure. My sympathies, and at the same time my encouragement to betterment you are assisting with for those mis-placed and ill treated refugees.

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    An aside, I just noticed my avatar location as Kanchanaburi, That is another place I always enjoy visiting, it's kind of special. I was once in conversation with an elderly guy who had been a POW on the railroad during the war. In fact I knew him quite well and as a youngster I listened to some of the tales he related, {especially when he had been drinking, and that was quite often} which in all honesty gave me an insight into a world I could barely believe had existed.

    I'll relate some of the tales sometime, they are in the very least interesting.

    I've enjoyed a few days at different places and if any-one is interested Duenne Shine Resort is quite a nice little place to stay. The rafts are grand, even if the walls to the adjoining are rather thin, so I recommend an end unit.

    The rooms in the two tier hotel type section are really nice and the small toy town type bungalows in the garden areas, are cute {as my wife says}

    You can usually get any of the above for Bt1000 a night including breakfast and that is quite a decent price for two. Nice swimming pool and they do some weekend breaks for business's or private parties which always involves a really good BBQ and entertainment.

    In town by the way there is a cracking little restaurant 'No Name Bar'

    Decent Thai meal for about Bt 40 or 50 and European quickies, Bangers and mash etc about Bt100?

    I just thought it might not be prudent to start naming places on these threads, no doubt the mods will blank it if I'm out of order.

  18. #18
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    Mathos

    I don't know if we are actually helping the refugees or harming them by allowing them to become completely dependent on foreign financial assistance. Who ever knows if one is actually doing "good" or not? All one can do is to keep an open mind and try one's best.

    I chose to be here, but my family remains in BKK. But all in all I can't complain, if I had a better option right now I would take it.

    The work isn't the most boring I have ever done, the salary isn't bad, especially for Thailand, and I work in an organization that supports education for refugees, so I do feel our work is making a small difference in the lives of people who through no fault of their own have had a rough go of it. I feel pretty good about the situation overall.

    You wrote in another thread that you want to live in Mae Sot, well if you are an accountant and willing to work on a local salary package, we have an opening.

  19. #19
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    A.A.

    It's considerate of you to mention the vacancy for an accountant. Not my field but your concern is respected.

    It is a very difficult and delicate position regarding the refugees! Brighter and more involved people than me have been looking for solutions for years, it's a major problem with the poor souls. A great deal of the problems arising with The Karen and the Junta can be attributed to Britain pulling out of Burma at the end of WW11. From my personal point of view though, I have to give 100% support to people such as yourself for doing the brilliant work you do. I think you are on track, but understand the considerations you mention.

    In any event it's a very sad state of affairs. Men, women and children being abused in the most despicable inhuman manners possible, murdered, driven from their homes. Homes burned etc etc. Limbs being blown off by land-mines, lack of medical attention and facilities, there are of course the special ones Dr Cynthia always springs to mind. The volunteers who carry medical aid through those inhospitable mountains. People shouldn't be living in these circumstances, it's 2007 for crying out loud.

    I don't know if you have been into Myawaddi, it's a very interesting town, a lot of poverty , electricity supplied to the chosen few from Thailand!
    There is a very lively market in town on the right hand side after you go through the Border Pass. A great deal going on there too. Last time I was there, February this year, two girls kicked off like a couple of wild cats, fists, feet, hair pulling, then a stool followed by one of those gigantic pans of boiling soup! Shit everybody got a bit, including me, lucky though it was my legs which got splashed and I had trousers on as against shorts! Some weren't so lucky.

    I'm presently trying to get some work finalised in The UK myself before mid December when I'm going to be on my way. I'll be out there for about four months, not too sure when I'll be in Mae Sot as yet, but if you are about, I'll contact you and we can have a cup of tea, or even a beer together!
    Let me know.

    {Bet that cup of tea bit caused a bit of face pulling}

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathos
    I just thought it might not be prudent to start naming places on these threads, no doubt the mods will blank it if I'm out of order.
    Go for it. Start a new thread and post pictures if you want.

  21. #21
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    Thanks for that MTD!

    OK I will get around to it, I have some good stuff, brilliant pics, {over 6000 to be honest:- Thailand - Laos - Cambodia - Burma} However, I can't give it the time right now, I'm running out of time closing down here for a spell and I work for myself so it ain't that easy, it never is!
    I also do some coaching ABA and have to sort a few lads out for some contest work prior to going away. I'm taking two lads out to Thailand with me for a bit of experience on The Muay Thai circuits I have to look after them and make sure they behave themselves! Shit you can't let two sixteen year old lads from the innocence of Lancashire life loose in Thailand, they'd get corrupted! They return to UK early January, after that the time out there is my own for a few months or whatever. { Under the all seeing eye of my wife of course!}

    Then, when I get back to UK I'll eventually load some good stuff I have on Teak Door. It's a good interesting forum, members in general seem a pretty good selection of characters; I love variations in life.

    So bear with me.

  22. #22
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    It just happens to be a really nasty old day in the NW of England today, I'd planned to do so much outside but there is no chance, so I thought I'd do a little writing up on here.

    Northern Thailand contains some of the most fascinating people on the planet! The lower slopes of the uplands and the lowlands themselves are claimed by people referred to as northern Thai's or Khonmuang, strongly related to the Shah and Lao. The mountain areas with all of their outstanding limestone peaks reaching in places around 2600 meters above the level of the salt water is homeland to a very culturally distinct selection of folks, minority groups including tribes and customs from the Tibetan Burmese, Lahu, Akha, Lisu, Hmong and Lao of course. Then the major group of Karens who are quite different from either the lowlanders or the highlanders. There have been many so called population count of the mountain people, I am of the opinion that a true figure could never be reached, it's more than difficult to tell who's who and whats what in the mountains, mountains which are simply home to these tribes and they diversify in so many different manners.

    The size of a mountain or hillside village especially can vary from on area to another at an alarming difference, mainly depending on the land, coupled with the needs of the community. I have seen villages consisting of over a hundred homes built of bamboo, planking, thatched, grass, leaves for roofs.

    The majority have migrated from China during the last hundred years or so, Lahu & Akha originating from Yunnan territories. they still migrate from those areas today. Their homes are established in Burma, Laos and Thailand.

    I have heard that there are over four million Hmong, and well over a million Yao, in excess of three quarters of a million Lisu and a quarter million Lahu still living in China! ??

    It is quite well accepted that almost five million Karen live in Burma.

    Thai provinces with really high concentrations of hill people include Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son and Tak.

    The mountain people are hardy folk to put it mildly even. They have their own languages, ancient beliefs, customs, mode of dress, and were best known to the outside world for their cultivation of the opium poppy. They are extremely strong in their beliefs of the supernatural, Thais in general tend to show this trait too, along with I have noticed, the Burmese, Laotians, Cambodians, Vietnamese and many Malaysians. Perhaps it is part of the onus that is attached to the territory?

    There was a time when Khun Sa had total control of these mountains, a live and let live manner existed, everybody in the mountains recognised the importance of the Golden Triangle as the heroin capital of the world, benefits were obtained by many.

    The DEA ensured the Thais too military action against Khun Sa's Thai headquarters in 1982 (January I seem to recall) at Ban Hin Tack some fifty or sixty kilometers to the north-east of Chiang Rai.

    I recall a pre-dawn raid taking place, ground assaults and air support from helicopter gunships! A hasty retreat into the mountains of Burma was made by Kun Sa's Shan Army soldiers. Khun Sa wanted revenge for this assault and had approximately two hundred of his soldiers attack Mae Sai. they attacked the Police Station robbed all they could from The Thai Farmers Bank and set many fires going in the vicinity, vehicles especially.

    Khun Sa soon established a new control point in the Burmese mountains opposite Mae Hong Son Province. He extended his forces and built several fortresses at strategic points in the mountains along the full length of the border.

    He later joined forces with Moh Heng a powerful Shah warlord, between them they took control of the whole border area raising the world wide status of Khun Sa to Opium King and bringing notoriety to the Golden Triangle in general.

    I understand he resides in palatial retirement in Burma!

    There is quite a process involved in converting raw opium into morphine!

    Opium is placed into drums of water and boiled, lime fertiliser is added. the mixture is stirred and left until the matter is suspended in the water. The water is then drained off and the solution is poured into a different drum and heated. Concentrated ammonia is added, the morphine (as it becomes) will sink to the bottom. Drain off through a flannel type cloth leaving chunky particles of morphine which is then packaged.

    The manufacturing of heroin is much more complicated and the skills of a master chemist are required to produce the fluffy white powder!

    The final stages require the use of ether, {extremely dangerous} if mishandled explosions of a very powerful nature can occur.

    The morphine and acetic anhydride are heated together in clean water until they bond. Impurities must then be removed. Sodium carbonate is then introduced, this causes a solidification of crude heroin. Again it has to be filtered and purified in alcohol with charcoal. The alcohol is allowed to evaporate and granules of heroin are left. These granules are then mixed in the perfectly correct ratios with ether and hydrochloric acid.

    Once the white flakes form, the same is filtered and left to dry.

  23. #23
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    I'll look forward to that.

    Sounds an interesting place.

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    It's an extremely interesting place S.O. the people, the climate, the way of life in general.

    There are places in those mountains right now were the crops will be getting thinned out (November) leaving the healthier plants further apart. Vegetables the likes of beans or even spinach will be planted amid them, this adds minerals to the soil, as an added bonus it's good food for the people, it acts as a camouflage as well.

    A further thinning is carried out in December and the vegetables will be harvested, this clears the ground around the poppy and enable the plant to make it's last thrust, kind of like the birth process if you look at it another way.

    The flower petals appear in January, very bright, red, mauve or white, then they drop away and the actual crop is ripe. The bulb holds the resin of opium and the harvesting is carried out for a good six weeks, into March at times. The farmer is very expert at cutting the bulb for the opium to seep out, too deep and it will come out too quickly and be lost on the ground, too shallow and it will congeal and need re-cutting. They normally cut in the mid day heat when the resin will run better forming small droplets on the bulb, turning brown and hardening as the sun sinks and the coolness of the night, especially in the mountains is felt.

    They scrape it off at first light it's a very sticky pungent smelling brown substance. Each plant can yield three or four times prior to drying up. The opium is shaped into blocks and wrapped in banana leaves or paper, it will then be stored in containers usually made from wicker. It can retain it's potency for up to three years, some reckon the longer it is left before being turned to morphine or heroin the better it is.

    Opium smoking is still widely part of normal life in the hills! There is quite a process involved in smoking opium and it is treated with some reverence.

    Like with most narcotics it can be a very dangerous avenue to walk down.

    Also as with other drugs, body mass, mental state, personal expertise in handling narcotics of any type, the quality, quantity and particular strength of the subject matter are going to effect the user differently.

    Continual use will always lead to addiction!

    It takes a few pipes to rock the boat so to speak, a feeling of well being, euphoria, vividly dreaming whilst wide awake, (hallucinations) luxurious feelings with each additional inhalation. Drawbacks! Nausea, apathy, palpitations, constipation, lack of concentration, appetite suppressant, physical impairment in all ways, lowered or total lack of sex drive, respiratory failure and even death!

    In the hills it is measured as tae's!

    A tae equals a small finger-tipped size ball of pure opium which is enough for between twenty and thirty pipes. An addict will need as many as a hundred pipes daily!!

    A very expensive past-time and if you get hooked on it, there is little or nothing at all for you futuristically.

  25. #25
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    I meant look forward to the pics!

    Never tried it - but I would. The way I see it, you have to try everything twice.

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