In the early years of the twentieth century a Hmong warlord ruled in the remote and high mountains in the triangle between Vietnam, Laos, and China. Opium poppies were the source of his income and power.
There’s some confusion as to who built the palace for the “King of the Hmongs”. The guidebook says it was built by the French. Our local guide credited the people the warlord ruled, as a kind of tribute. In any case, the warlord was clearly sought after by the great powers, and also handled all issues of life and death for those who lived under his sway.
Incidentally, like many a building of the rich and powerful, the entrance to the warlord’s palace is far grander than any of the chambers on the inside.