SOUTHEAST ASIA: The Puritan Crusade

Fields of poppies have bloomed for centuries in the remote, jungle-clad valleys of northern Laos where five nations—Laos. Red China, Burma. Thailand and Communist North Viet Nam—meet in a tangle of ill-defined boundaries. The local Meos and kindred tribesmen delicately pierce the flowering buds, extract the sticky raw opium. Some of it they use themselves: when a Meo child complains of an ache, his mother may blow opium smoke into his mouth to ease the pain; for Meo adults, opium smoking provides a goofing-off pleasure that is their substitute for the combined...

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