Thursday, December 28, 2017

Life of Pai

The White Buddha sits on a hillside above Pai.

We left Chiang Mai, boarded a bus, and took a 3 hour ride through twisting mountain roads to the town of Pai.  

Pai has a definite 'hippie' vibe to it.  Bare feet and dreadlocks, cool bars and funky cafes, beards and beads.  Joe and I must be older than everyone else by at least 30 years.

A bar gets ready for its evening customers.

These women served up a variety of herbal teas in bamboo cups every evening in the 
'Walking Street Market'.

Bridge over the River Pai.  This bamboo bridge felt like it was going to break every time 
we walked over it.

Our digs in Pai.  We stayed out in the country, about a 5 minute drive from town.

We spent Christmas Day poolside.

Christmas Day lunch.  We had a hankering for Western food so we indulged ourselves.  Those burgers and onion rings did not disappoint. 

One evening, we hired a driver to take us to Pai Canyon to watch the sunset.  The canyon is bisected by very steep, very narrow cliff walls.  I got vertigo just watching people.

In Thailand, it is customary to remove one's shoes before entering a home or shop.  Even the doctor's office!

Where is everybody?  We had the pool mostly to ourselves every day.  Mind you, the water was cold.  But not to us hardy Canadians! 

One afternoon, as we were waiting in front of our guest house for our driver, we saw a man and an elephant sauntering down the road.  It was absolutely surreal!  I had never seen an elephant before.  I couldn't believe how HUGE this animal was!

I motioned to the man asking if I could take a photograph.  He nodded yes, I lifted the camera to my face, but before I could snap a pic the elephant crossed the road and walked right toward me.  At first it felt a little scary.  These animals are gigantic!   She looked me straight in the eye and let me pat her trunk.  It was an such emotional experience.   And with that, she turned around and continued walking up the road.  I will never forget that elephant and the effect she had on me.

We are addicted to Thai massages!  These women gave us incredible massages every single day.  After each massage, they insisted on having a photo taken with us.

As soon as the street bars start filling up at night, that is the signal for Joe and I to return to our room.

And speaking of rooms, here's ours.  You would think this was a comfy bed wouldn't you?  WELL, IT ISN'T!  Asian mattresses are as firm as a plank of plywood.  Most mornings I feel as if I've been punched in the kidneys.  I think this is why there are so many Thai massage places in this country.  Because the beds are so hard and everyone's backs are sore!  (P.S.  After 3 weeks, I am getting somewhat used to the mattresses here.  I can now sleep longer than 6 hours at a stretch.  And my back and hips don't complain as much when I crawl out of bed each morning.)

This little guy spent the evening floating on an inner tube which was tied to the moorings of the bamboo bridge.

A beautiful sunset over the nightly Walking Street Market.

One night at the market, we saw a bride and groom.  As we passed by, we congratulated them on their marriage.  The next thing we knew, they pulled us in for a group photo.

Now THAT is what I call an umbrella!

Pai Fashion Week.

This is how shops close up in Pai.  With a string and two pieces of paper.

Everywhere you look, you can see the White Buddha sitting high on a hill overlooking the town.

 There are countless stray dogs and cats in this country.  This restaurant owner was nice enough to put a blanket on the floor for this poor dog to sleep on.  You can find dogs curled up on every street corner in every town.

 Thai food cannot be beat.

We ate breakfast at this little food stall one morning.  Our cheque came to 330 baht.  Joe only had a 1,000 baht note.  The proprietor had no change.  He said to us, "Pay me another time when you get smaller bills."  We did.  That experience sums up Thailand perfectly. 

Sunset in Pai Canyon.

We had a wonderful stay in Pai.

We met some incredibly friendly people, ate more delicious Thai food and saw many beautiful sights.

We are heading out tomorrow to spend New Years Eve in Chiang Mai before we take a bus north to the Thailand/Laos border.

Our next adventure awaits!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Until We Meet Again, Chiang Mai!

Our 12 days in bustling Chaing Mai have been fantastic.  We've seen and done things we never imagined seeing or doing.  We've met marvelous people and eaten incredible food.  And consumed a lot of beer! 

We had Thai massages every other day, the dogs entertained us and we ate our weight in Khao Soi soup.  We really enjoyed house-sitting in the countryside, being able to listen to the frogs at night and the birds in the morning.

What a wonderful experience it has been.   

We were feeling lazy one day, so we spent an afternoon at Huay Tung Tao Lake.

Relaxing on the lake in a rented inner tube.

Lunch is served!

The kids at the next hut were Canadian university students from Toronto.  We heard each other speaking English and struck up a conversation.  Joe invited them over to show them photos of his pizza oven and espresso machine.  They all immediately 'liked' Joe's Cafe on facebook.  We invited them to stay with us in Squamish if they ever found themselves in the Sea-To-Sky corridor.

Food is never hard to find in this country.  This woman's cart is just down the road from where we're house-sitting.  She spoke no English, we spoke no Thai.  But she understood that we were hungry and fed us.  One of her daughters crossed the road to fetch us a couple of beers from a guy who was operating a bar in his driveway.
The sweet woman who cooked us dinner without exchanging one word.

Jia Jang Market on a Sunday morning.

Only at the Sunday morning market can you listen to a musician AND get your hair cut at the same time.

This is why the food in this country is so delectable.  All the ingredients are so FRESH!

A sign on the steps at one of the ancient stone temples.

At first I thought this woman was selling crab cakes.  But then I realized it was coconut.  Shredded, pan-fried, and piled on a stick.  Pure deliciousness.

Begging bowls in the temple.

The interiors of the temples are gorgeous.

I can't wait to meet one of these majestic animals in person.

While her mother worked, this baby stood in a walker bungee-corded to a box.

Many babies are carried on their parents' backs or in their parents' arms while being driven on a motorbike.

Sunday Night Street Market.  A river of people.

Getting foot massages at the Sunday Night Street Market.

Only 60 baht for a squid-sicle!

'Take-Your-Child-To-Work' week.

Our new French friends invited us for a swim in their condo's rooftop pool one afternoon.

I felt like I was living in an episode of 'Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous'.

Thank you, Jacques and Brigitte, for having us over (twice!) to your beautiful condo.

Buddhas and temples abound in this city.

One morning, we hired our guide Jack to drive us to a market up in the mountains.  This market is run by the women of the Hmong and Karen tribes.  Each item was so colourful and beautiful.  I wanted to buy everything.
The roosters were kept high up on a platform, away from the marauding bands of stray dogs.

No, I didn't buy the hat.

But I did buy a bracelet.

This woman was weaving the most beautiful silk scarves.  I just had to buy one.

Such beauty.

The longer the neck, the more beautiful the woman.

As always, I am drawn to the children.  Girls start wearing neck rings at 4 or 5 years of age.  

New friends.

Mrs. Sotham in her natural habitat.  The Hmong and Karen children help out their families during the day and go to school in the evening. 

The universal language for "I am three years old."

Monks and temples.

A bowl (or two) of soup is all one needs for lunch.

Joe LOVES to shop in the food markets.

Deep-fried chicken heads anyone?

Northern Thai sausage is delicious!

Hanging at the local bar, just down the road from where we're staying.

Thank you, Erica, for having us house-sit for you.  We loved taking care of your home and your sweet dogs.  Lila and Mango were consummate hostesses and very good companions. 

We are leaving Chiang Mai in the morning.  We are taking a bus through the mountains to the town of Pai.  We will spend Christmas there.

Merry Christmas to you all!  Enjoy every moment of your holiday with family and friends.