Pai in the Sky
Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
According to most of the people I met in Chiang Mai, I would not like Pai and therefore should not include it on my travel itinerary. True to fashion, I ignored most of the advice received and hopped on a mini-bus headed for the small town that is known for its loud music and wild parties. I knew as soon as we left the environs of Chiang Mai that I had made the right decision, as the mini-bus climbed steadily through a lush and beautiful countryside. Unfortunately though, along with the steep terrain and resulting sharp curves, it took all of my concentration to resist the urge to barf.
In spite of being constantly jostled from side to side of the mini-bus, or perhaps because of it, I had the pleasure of meeting Ania from Poland, my second angel. On foot, we explored the town of Pai and ended up checking into a couple of split bamboo bungalows overlooking a gurgling brook
For the first time since leaving Canada, I was able to muster up enough energy to join Ania in several fifteen km walks into the countryside. Away from the crowded, noisy tourist streets of Chiang Mai, we inhaled the fresh country air, dangled our feet in the COLD temperatures of Ma Paeng Waterfall, cris-crossed a river more than twenty times on our way to the Mae Yen Waterfall, bicycled in the searing daytime temperatures to the even hotter hot springs and to the awesome Pai Canyon, and feasted on the exotic richness of dragon fruit, mangosteens, pineapple, mandarins, and just plain old bananas.
Actually, I think I’m addicted to sticky rice, but even better is mango sticky rice - yum!! However, the manicured chicken claw staring at me as I ate my way through my plain rice packet, was a bit disconcerting!
Sitting on the verandah of my bungalow, Ania and I spent hours (often in tears) talking about Mike and Gerry, and reflecting on the meaning of life. And it goes without saying that somewhere along the way I had to experience Thailand’s version of “Montezuma’s Revenge”. Ania kindly brought medications, plain tea and rice to my bedside, and patiently watched over me. Days later, although I was still desperately weak, Ania managed to get me and my backpack to the bus station - our visas for Thailand were about to expire, so we had to get ourselves out of the country and into adjoining Laos.