Friday, January 27, 2012

Life in Pai

January, 2010

...took an early minibus to Pai. As the road was quite curvy, none of the luggage could go on top, making for a very crowded ride. Miki and I had chosen seats well, and had a fair amount of space, but personal boundaries meant little as centrifugal forces thrust us against one another through all the turns. The Thai girl in front of us filled a veneer bag with the contents of her stomach.

Pai was a cute little town, very touristic. This had once been a backpack destination, but now fashionable middle-class Thais outnumbered the farang. It seems their numbers overtook that of the 2000 locals. Every single resident appeared to be involved in the tourist trade somehow, every structure in town being a hotel, cafe, or shop. Many of the latter had post boxes from which to send postcards, or those white cement milage signs seen on every Thai road. The town was blessed with natural scenery, of red dirt, and alpine peaks that looked a lot like New Mexico. The trees on those hills were the bare skeletal shapes of winter, but here in the valley all was warm and welcoming. The music overheard, plus the multiple flyers for yoga or similar hippie attractions had great appeal. This was a place that I could happily place a few happy weeks.

We had a stroll around town, taking all of an hour. There was nearly no traffic on the street, until you needed to cross, then a van or a bus would roar out of nowhere. It was my own private "Local Hero" moment. We wound up in hammocks overlooking the river, reading, and dozing. Kids splashed in the water, dodging the bamboo rafts ferrying Thai families downriver. There was a wat on a hill just outside town, but we couldn't be bothered to climb it, preferring instead the view from the hammock. For isn't doing nothing what this town is all about?

In late afternoon, we had a coffee in an adobe colored stucco cafe with colorful window frames that fueled further comparisons with New Mexico. Dinner riverside at sunset rounded out the day.

(Though not quite. Had a beer at an outdoor jazz cub that happened to be closed. The owner told me how Pai had built a bunch of new hotels for the increasing number of Thai tourists. Sadly, they never came...)

On the turntable: "A Dead Band's Party" (Various)

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