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Thailand in 2014 – Progress in Rural Development

by Jane Ginn

I recently returned from a two-week visit to Thailand which included a visit to the Opium Museum in the Golden Triangle.

After spending about 2-hours studying the excellent exhibits on

  • the history of international trade,
  • the Opium Wars between England and China,
  • the migration of poppy cultivation for opium production to the Thailand/Myanmar (Burma)/Laos Golden Triangle area according to the terms of the Bowring Treaty,
  •  development of a worldwide convention against the cultivation of poppies for the production of opium,
  • the development of derivative products such as morphine and heroin, and
  • the physiological, cultural, and sociological effects of addiction to opium and its various derivatives

the visitor is ushered through a room called “The Wall of Victims.”  In this room the viewer sees larger-than-life photos of famous actors, musicians, sports celebrities and others that became addicted and died an early death.

Just two days after visiting the museum I learned that Philip Seymour Hoffman had died of an apparent overdose of heroin in his Manhattan apartment.  Tragic.

What I observed from my short visit was that diversification of business and employment opportunities for the Hill Tribe people in the north has been vitally important for reductions in the dependence of individual tribal people on poppy cultivation.  The link between supply and demand of opiates on the world market was made that much more poignant with the death of this great actor.

The museum was built by the Mae Fah Luang Foundation, an organization started by the current King’s deceased mother.  They are performing a valuable public service; one that, perhaps, Philip Seymour Hoffman should have seen.  Visitors to the Golden Triange area should not miss this exhibit.

Below is a slide show of various shots from around the country illustrating the diversity of the Thailand country-side and market economy.

Thailand Photos: South and North from SedonaCyberLink