Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Life of Pai

The road between Chiang Mai and Pai is an attraction in itself. Or should I say a repellent? It's significant, anyway. As the road climbs through the hills, it goes through 762 turns. I did it in a comfortable car and after 3 hours, I was pretty sick of it. God knows what it's like for the locals doing the trip on those ricketty Thai mopeds.

Pai is a town in the hills to the north-west of Chiang Mai, on the way to the Myanmar border. It's traditionally a sleepy artist village, but when we went it was crazy busy and new accommodation was being thrown together all over the place.

We arrived in the evening and went out for a walk. We made our way to Wat Luang.

From there we climbed to the temple Wat Phra Thart Mae Yen on one of the hills overlooking the town, to watch the sunset.

We couldn't work out why, in Pai, all of the souvenirs seemed to be about the town mailboxes, which were extremely ordinary. It turns out that the mailboxes were a feature of a recent Thai film set in Pai. Perhaps that also explains why the town was crammed with tourists.

My aunt asked if I would like a t-shirt with Pai on it, but most of my shirts already have pie on them, so I declined. Thank you, try the veal.

A couple of lantern Xmas trees, the second one reflected in the pool.

Because Pai is in the hills, I was warned that it would be cold. Right at the moment I consider myself a leading expert on being cold, and Thailand isn't. You don't know the meaning of "surreal" until you've stood sweating in shorts and sandals, sipping iced bael juice, and listened to a speaker piping "Frosty the Snowman".

But the locals ~think~ it's cold. Do you remember when I went to Chiang Mai in '08 and saw the pandas? The locals are crazy about them. In CM, there is a 24 hour panda channel on TV where you can watch them doing pretty much nothing. The must-have fashion item is a furry panda hat with ear flaps that hang all the way down to your hands to provide built-in gloves that look like paws.

Are you ready for a cute picture?

Little Panda's Big Day Out

If you look to the left, you'll see that not only is the baby wearing a panda hat, but so is the adult in front. Even in CM in the daytime, I saw people wearing polar fleeces and fur-lined hoods. Crazy.

The high point of the the Pai night market was an elk or antelope or something, played by two Myanmarese.

The head was made of wood so when people walked near it, it would snap at them with a loud clacking sound. It lay down for a while and gnawed on its groin. Groin humour is universal.

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