As a big tea-lover (and of course tea-drinker) I was very curious to see and vist the Oolong tea plantations north of Chiang Mai. Back in 1960-ies some thousand Chinese soldiers got asylium from the Thai government and were allowed to stay and leave in this area. Due to the fact that the Maesalong reagion is in te muntaina nd not so well accessible it was the perfect place to grow opium. According to a CIA report in 1971, Mae Salong was then one of the largest heroin refineries in Southeast Asia. Only in the late 1980s the Thai government was really able to make any headway in taming the region – part of which involved crop substitution plans (from opium to tea) and giving the area a new name (Santikhiri meaning "hill of peace")..
Nowadays one may enjoy hilly drive, fantastic green tea-sceneries and (if lucky as we were) also the teapickers with their big baskets...In the village itself onemay fill a bit overwhelmed with over 15 shops selling more or less the same tea, but its nice to take the time for some tea-tasting...Its the first time I was served a tea in two cups, see picture attached! In one word: its worth the drive (around 80 km from ChaingRai):-)