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Published: February 6th 2010
I had heard many good things about Pai since I was passing through Malaysia, so I guess it's fair to say I had certain expectations about this small town in northern Thailand, very close to the Burmese border. My new British buddies Henry, Sam and Dave came along with me to check it out. Our minibus traveled through long, windy roads as we made our way through the mountains. We arrived after the sun had gone down and were let off at the main street of the town. Pleasantly surprised, or at least relieved, my initial impressions were good. We strolled down the street with all our gear, and slowly examined the extremely peaceful and laid back town and people. Vendors quietly went about their business, people walked about without a care in the world, and although there were tourists, it didn't seem like the complete over saturation that I'd experienced in other parts of the country. This mountain town was gorgeous and seemed to be a great place to just relax for a few days. A river ran through it and bamboo bridges connected the two sides at certain points.
After we found some cheap lodging and settled in,
good place apart from the fact I seemed to have a makeshift door, we walked around and explored a little. Everyone seemed friendly and we began meeting many people who had made this place their second home. We met some girls who had initially wanted to come here for a few days and were now here for three months. I'd have to be careful this didn't happen to me. We ate some street food, which was amazing, and then went out to a bar. The temperature definitely dipped here in the evenings, it was maybe between fifteen to five degrees at night. I had to put on a long sleeved shirt. We sat on the terrace of a place called the Bamboo Bar, and got a fire going right in the middle to keep warm. Some other people joined us and we just chilled out that evening.
The following day while we ate breakfast on a second floor balcony, someone came up and illicited a surprised reaction from my British mates. They just happened to run into this American guy called Charlie, apparently they had shared some adventures back in Bangkok, and now through fate were reunited yet again.
It's funny how people seem to run into each other so much in this place! Charlie joined us and then suggested we rent motorbikes to check out the surrounding and picturesque countryside. We quickly agreed and before we knew it we were all riding out of the town heading west to parts unknown. The plan seemed to be that there was no plan, and that we'd discover things along the way. We drove for a while until we saw signs for some hot springs and went to check it out. They weren't incredibly impressive but at the top most part the temperature was 80C! Some people were boiling their eggs there! We just dipped our feet further towards the bottom where the temperature was way more tolerable and then we headed back out. As we left Charlie seemed to be having trouble with his bike, it kept dying after he'd go a few feet. He had a mobile and called the rental place. Skeptical at first, they did show up actually quickly with a replacement bike for him and we continued on. We rode through small villages and they were beautiful. Along the way certain villagers on the side of
the road tried selling us opium. We made it to a small waterfall and hung out there until the sun began going down. Then we took off again back to Pai.
That night we went back to the same bar and the whole town seemed to be congregating there. It's funny how fast you get to know people in this setting, and we always saw the same people throughout our time in Pai. Right before sitting there everyone wanted to go on a motorbike ride through the mountainy roads, not the best idea. I did go along but made sure to go slow as my vision at night prohibits me from these sort of activities, especially since those roads had no street lights. Back at the bar everyone sat around the fire and the smell of weed filled the air. I met this guy who was planning on going to a monastery and living like a monk for three weeks. Sounded pretty cool.
The next day my British mates were leaving back to Bangkok to meet a friend that would be landing there soon. Charlie was heading back to Chiang Mai. I bid them all farewell and hope
to see them again sometime soon. The rest of the day I just took it easy, read some books, took a nap, walked around and took a few pictures, you get the idea.
On my last day in Pai I decided to take a Thai cooking course. The teacher was called Tee and two others joined us in the class. We started late morning and made curry paste out of fresh ingredients that were purchased from the local market that morning. I made some red curry paste and then eventually used that to make turmeric curry which was amazing. The others made different sorts of curry and we all shared our creations at lunch. In the evening I returned and this time we made soups, salads and I made the famous dish called Pad Thai. We had to be really quick while cooking because timing was a huge part in Thai cooking as certain ingredients burn quite quickly. We all ate dinner together as well and I got a little recipe book at the end.
I then had to run off to catch my transport to the border town of Chiang Kong in north-eastern Thailand to prepare for
my journey into Laos. I'm really gonna miss Pai and Thailand as well and hope to return sometime in the near future.
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