There is a town in northern Thailand that looks nothing like the Thailand that I know.
The sound of conversation on the streets is neither in the Thai nor the Mandarin that I know, it is in the clipped, sing-song aggression of the Yunnanese dialect. It sounds like I should know it, because it sounds so much like Mandarin, but I don't. The food stalls sell wanton noodles, not pad thai. What's going on here?
As it turns out, Mae Salong is settled predominantly by the descendants of the former 93rd Division of the Kuomintang army. As they were losing the war to the communists, this division was the one that was told to stay put, move south — through Burma, then eventually to Thailand — while the rest of the Nationalists scuttled over to Formosa, now known as Taiwan. The 93rd Division's main operation, for a time, was to wait for General Chiang to 'take back the motherland'. They could then be activated for an invasion from the south.
We know how that story went.
They continued waitin ...
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In the summer of 2009 I set off to travel across Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey: mostly as single female backpacker with a camera, mostly travelling by public transport.
I was led only by my amateur love of ancient history.
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