The Dai's Homecoming Queen

It was after the seventh or eighth tumbler of rice whiskey that the tears began to flow. Nai Tong, the weather-beaten, gold-toothed village chief, blinked hard, splashed the whiskey jug around and raised his glass. "Welcome to Sipsongpanna, daughter of the Dai. Welcome home." It was a magic moment and the culmination of an emotion-charged journey for my wife, Sawitree. She is the first of her large northern Thai family to travel back to the land of her ancestors, the Dai people, who inhabit the southern tip of China's Yunnan province. The region is now known as Xishuangbanna, a Sinicization of...

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