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Published: March 17th 2007
A Dry Spot on the River
It's evident now that during certain points of my trip my entries may be few and far between. Hopefully, this is a sign that I am too busy having fun to write which luckily is the case at the moment. I am in the wonderful little town of Pai, high in the mountains of northern Thailand. I arrived about 6 days ago from Chiang Mai on a crowded local bus. Within half an hour of getting here I found a great guesthouse which has the reputation for being the musician hangout. It's called the Family House and I think there are more guitars than guests. The owner Noi is a hippy Thai man of about 60 who encourages music, creativity, relaxing and good times. The first night I went to a small bar called the Buffalo Exchange where the local Thai band does covers but it ends up being more of an open mic.
I met a very nice Danish guy, Michael, who had rented a scooter and invited me to explore Pai and the surrounding areas with him. So the next day we set out to find what the mountains had to offer. The weather in this part of
Waterfall Near Pai
Taking a freezing dip
Thailand at the moment is very strange because the farmer practice “slash and burn” to prepare their fields for the next crop. The sky is hazy and the landscape is a patchwork of brown and green with rolling hills as a backdrop. We stopped by a canyon and then a waterfall off a back road. When we arrived there were several young Thai boys spending there afternoon swimming in the freezing cold water. They must have thought we were very strange, my friend being very blonde and myself in a bikini (the women here swim fully clothed). They took photos of us as if they were the tourist and we had just landed from Mars. After the quick dip in -20 degree water we headed back to town, watching the fluorescent sun quickly disappear behind the mountains.
We had so much fun the first trip around Pai that we decided to continue the next day. So we set out on the scooter again heading towards the Karen’s Elephant Camp. Pai is a popular place to swim with elephants and we were recommended this place from Karen’s brother who sells water at the canyon. While snacking on some noodle soup in
The sun burning through the hazy Pai air
front of the elephants we met a nice Canadian guy, Brian, who also was interested in going with us. Michael and I were on the big elephant of 40 years old while Brian got a small 14 year old for himself (a more reliable elephant, convenient for city life, compact and easy to park). We had to board the elephants from a platform above their stalls. The guide sat on his head and we only had a rope to save us from what seemed like a 20 foot drop. We headed out from the camp through a dirt road passing people harvesting garlic towards the river. Luckily this is dry season so the river was not too deep. When we got in the water the guides shouted something which made the gigantic animals squat in the water and roll you off their backs. Brian’s elephant which was smaller and therefore more agile was able to buck him off as if it were a bronco. Ours did a more tossing from side to side movement that I was praying not to get stuck under. After swimming we decided to finish the day at the Camping Spa hot springs pool. We drank
Strange curves at the canyon near Pai
Chang beer and relaxed our muscles in the thermal water. It was a great ending to a great day.
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