The Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is commonly referred to as the intersection of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (formerly Burma). This area has become synonymous with opium, a strong and addictive narcotic.
The Golden Triangle is actually in Vietnam. I've seen it many times along with local guides. The area is roughly marked by Hue, Hanoi and Saigon but extends outside too.
The secret to finding the Golden Triangle is to look for the ao dai, a traditional dress worn by Vietnamese women. It's a two-piece, fitted, silk garment often featured on promotional materials. The bottom is a pant which wraps around the waist and extends to the ground. The top is a long-sleeved blouse with both a front and back flap which drape freely. I see the ao dai most frequently in Hue, where the dress originated during the Nguyen dynasty.
As a former retail salesman for eight years, I appreciate the elegant lines, especially when a breeze carries the flaps. Older females frequently wear ao dai with embroidery on the front. I see the decorated tunics every time I visit Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, an important pilgrimage site for Vietnamese, and also during every major holiday.
Between the two flaps of the blouse is a gap on each side of the torso. It continues upward about two inches above the top of the pant. There you find a small patch of exposed flesh - the Golden Triangle.
One of the local guide tells me a story: The ao dai covers everything but hides nothing. When a girl in an ao dai walks up and talks sweetly, he cannot resist. When she asks him a favor, he cannot refuse.
For me, this area is more like the Bermuda Triangle. When my attention focuses there, the rest of my navigation goes haywire.
I have never been to opium's Golden Triangle. I have traveled within 200 kilometers in both Thailand and Laos. The terrain is full of natural beauty. But if I don't make it, that's OK. I can live with the aphrodisiac effect of Vietnam's Golden Triangle.