Southeast Asia just oozes exoticism, and has done for centuries. Why else did First World nations like Britain, the United States, France and others spend so much time and energy attempting to turn the region into a tropical version of their own backyard.
Read alsoOpium in Thailand
If there is one 'drug' which encapsulates the 'East' for many Westerners it is opium. Mention the word opium and many people begin to conjure an almost romantic world of smoky dives, in which glassy-eyed, somnolent men are wrapped around an elegant pipe.The truth, of course, is somewhat different and the opium trade in Thailand…
Nowadays, it attracts a huge number of travellers from all over the planet, all keen on testing their capacity to withstand stomach bugs, olfactory odours of a pungency not known since the last time they changed a babies nappies, and visual sights that have them thinking they really shouldn’t have experimented quite so liberally with illegal substances in their youth.
In Tarts, Touts and Temples, author Duncan Stearn recounts a series of trips and adventures to which many who have been to Southeast Asia can relate. All are true, even if some sound fanciful or a bit too true to be believed.