Do nothing in Pai

From link::roryseiter.blogspot

Four hours North of Chiang Mai lies the small village of Pai. It consists mostly of guesthouses and restaurants. A few years ago there were no ATMs, dirt roads, and sleepy locals. Then people like us arrived. We arrived by the thousands. Walking down the streets was like walking through a small Hawaiian town. There were stalls selling anything that you could want. Music was playing out of everywhere, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Marley, and Jack Johnson.
Every morning, Pai is blanketed in a cold mist. The people of Pai dress as if they are living at Everest base camp. Nepalese looking hats, scarves, gloves are all common in Pai. As the sun makes its entry, it slowly burns off the mist and the days get pretty warm.

Little did we know that we would be arriving in Pai for the biggest event of the year, the “Pai Music Celebration”. This was a festival that was a Vans Warped Tour, country fair, and swap meet all in one. Entry fee = about $1. There was a small stage with a local band playing Thai rock music. Then there was a big stage of a Thai band playing Bob Marley covers.

There isn’t much to do in Pai, but that is the appeal. The most popular things are trekking, elephant riding, and white water rafting. The trekking consisted of overnight camping for a couple days and we were only there for one night. The white water rafting was in a river that looked toxic. Brown and slow moving wasn’t appealing, so we opted for the elephants. Very happy that we did!

From link::roryseiter.blogspot

Other links::Nina the Lone Explorer!
About Pai - Thailand

Party Of Five

From link::In The Land Of Smiles

We had a couple days to kill in familiar Bangkok before the girls arrived. After re-aquainting ourselves with the over-stimulation that is Khao Sarn Road, we dropped off a couple kilos of excess backpack weight & had an amazing Italian feast at Chatree's place, got to know modern Bangkok downtown at the malls, & lay out at Lumphini Park in front of a pond full of massive lizards that we initially assumed to be either anacondas or snakes (hey, you never know in Bangkok).

An era ended & a new chapter began when the girls joined us on the other side of the world- we officially went on a vacation from our vacation. Conveniently we decided not to acknowledge Tara & Mindy's jet lag & on their first day we dropped them at the Royal Palace, took an hour long cruise of the canals, squeezed all five of us into one tuk-tuk across town where we weaved our way through hectic chinatown, explored the uber-modern central world mall, & then head to the train station where we hopped on an overnight train bound for Chiang Mai.

Immediately after checking into our hotel we called up the same massage parlor we'd visited during our first whirl through town & arranged for them to pick us up ASAP. After being chauffered, we all changed into those same orange pajamas & sipped pandanus tea in a row while our feet were scrubbed clean. The former-inmates/current queens of massage lay us out on floor cushions & introduced Tara & Min to what Thailand really has to offer... tiger balm & all. We spent the rest of the day & into the evening perusing the Sunday walking street that had erupted outside the salon unbenounced to us. Every street inside the moated area of the city had closed down & been completely taken over by vendors offering up a unique selection of food, art, & souvenirs. It seemed nearly every person in Northern Thailand was floating through the maze.

The next day Lauren, Jenny, & I separated for the first time in months. Tara, Mindy, & I went off into the suburbs for a 7 hour intensive cooking class while Lauren & Jenny head to the Chiang Mai Zoo. While we learned & successfully made everything from heavenly mango sticky rice to drunken noodles, the girls got up close & personal with hippos & giraffes. We met up later for a cruise through the Night Bazaar & a couple St. Patrick's Day beers at an Irish Pub.

Next stop: Pai. Lonely Planet's description of this Northern expat haven sucked us right in.
"The hippie trail is alive & well in Pai"
After a long, overcrowded, winding trip through the mountains of Mae Hong Son we found ourselves beyond perfect accomodations at the Golden Hut Bungalows where from the benches surrounding our patio you could see the bright orange robes of monks (who we could also hear chanting at dawn) through the palm trees at their nearby wat. The town was quiet, bohemian, & fully enamored with it's own unique vibe. Small galleries sold postcards & other souvenirs baring cutesy recognition for Pai's Pai-ness...
"Pai in the sky"...
"Do nothing in Pai"....

We spent our first day poolside & surrounded by mountains before heading out into town to scope out the perfect spot for Jenny's birthday celebration. At the edge of town we stumbled upon Ting Tong Bar (which means "crazy... but in a good way"), a huge open air bar ran by a lively bunch of locals who promise nightly fire shows & live to entertain. We dropped word of Jenny's birthday to this fun loving bunch & extraordinarily the next day employees donning customized Ting Tong shirts passed out flyers inviting the entire town to join in the celebration of Jenny's 23rd. Strangers were actually stopping the herd of us on the street to wish Jenny a good one. While the girls found a new pool to spread out at, Tara & I spent that afternoon playing alone in a nearby river with a couple loveable elephants. We rode bareback through the countryside & got repeatedly dumped into the river as our new friend plopped himself over repeatedly. Tara had been waiting a long time to hang out with a real elephant & the experience could not have been more ideal.

0 . 2 . 8 . 4 . 0 .

That night, after a candlelit pregame with appetizers on our bungalow patio, dinner at a local restaurant, & a quick bar crawl for some cocktails & live music, we made it fashionably late & spent a memorable night at Ting Tong. Another unique 23rd birthday in Southeast Asia!

Are you Ting Tong?

The next day we left Pai behind & took a bus all the way back to Bangkok where we've been wandering for the last couple days. After a final Thai experience in the Red Light District last night, Tara flew back to the US & now the four of us have only a few hours until we get on a bus that will take us back down South where we'll spend our final weeks on the beach :)

Yet another chapter begins....

From link::In The Land Of Smiles

Other links::Hippyland, Thailand
Living with Lisu Hilltribe


From link::2headedturtle.wordpress

They’ve got Bird Flu in Vientiane: a woman and a young girl died recently. Chickens are generally to be avoided there: Much of our time in Laos was spent barely avoiding them as they dashed across the roads.

The presence of Bird Flu may in fact explain the psychology of the suicidal road chicken, a common phenomenon across SE Asia. These silly birds dart across the road as traffic approaches, usually barely avoiding rubber in their determination to get to the other side. Why? Are they sick, depressed?

How bad, I wonder, is the incidence of suicide among Burmese chickens, now that Bird Flu has again broken out in Myanmar?

The chickens were healthy and not the least depressed in Pai, in northern Thailand, where we spent a few days (too few) before returning to Bangkok. A much greater concern in Pai is the Westerner on a motorbike.

The sidewalk eateries of Pai’s main streets are lined not with chickens awaiting the worst moment to cross a crowded street, but with wounded white people nursing bandaged heads and arms in slings, trying with difficulty to see their breakfasts through puffy, bruised eyes. A reminder of the dangers of navigating the roads and alleys in an alien driving environment – if we needed any reminder after six weeks in this motorbike-crazed part of the world.

It is said, though I don’t believe it, that five accidents a day occur in Pai – a town of little more than 4,000 – caused by Westerners who can’t handle their Vespas.

There are some mishaps, certainly. But the pathetic wounded notwithstanding (or standing at all) I figured there was no better time to learn to ride: Pai is a small, chilled-out town and the roads are generally open, and wide enough, all things considered. Also I’m very safe on the roads, as all who know me will agree. So we rented a motorbike one day and tooled around town, a first for us both, and had no mishaps besides once almost falling sideways off a bridge.

The countryside around Pai is normally dry this time of year, but this season the aridity has reached drought proportions. Dust and the smell of burning are everywhere. We buzzed up to a waterfall several kilometers outside of town: only a trickle of water spilled over the edge of the rock. Rafting trips, one of Pai’s chief industries, have been cancelled until rain comes – supposedly in April, but no one is confident anymore that that will happen. To the south, Chiang Mai is in a state of emergency because of the health-hazardous dust.

Zooming haphazardly around the sidewalk-like roads of Pai, ignoring the dust, was the most we accomplished in six days. We also mustered the energy to get a massage. It’s a nice town, admittedly overrun by touristic types but ideal for lazing around and eating well – and cheaply. Also for improving your talent for haggling: but all of SE Asia has honed that ability in us.

Not everywhere afforded us a chance to learn to pop wheelies down main street while scattering chickens, roti vendors and crippled Swedes.

Ha, ha. Kidding. About the Swedes.

Pai was a great place to relax after Hanoi, Land of Honking Horns. In an upcoming post we’ll tell you all about our adventures in northern Vietnam, mostly on four feet. In the meantime keep your wheels on the ground and your knees in the breeze. Like they do in Pai.

Places we recommend in Pai: Breeze of Pai Guesthouse; Na’s Kitchen (best food in town); Phu Pai, for coffee and great music nightly; and Bebop, for great atmosphere, and music, nightly.

From link::2headedturtle.wordpress

Other links::Chang Mai- Pai (Thailand)

Pang Mapa, Thailand - Cave Lodge