When you are all templed-out and the sight of another Asian stupa will induce grand mal seizures, it is advisable that you take a break and head off to this part of Thailand where you can clean your palate before you continue exploring another Asian country and start touring the place to see some, well, more temples.
The soporific town of Mae Hong Son was featured in a Thai film “Pai in Love”. Possibly one of those cheesy flicks that came-out after the Koreans started producing romantic movies with mediocre pop stars dominating the billing.
We managed to go around and do some shopping, the town is screaming with art that it is merely impossible for everyone to go home empty handed. Indie artists from all over the world have planted their feet in this valley, which gave Pai a certain flavor and feel of Hippie/Shabby chic/cotton candy art on steroids, like as if Rachel Ashwell, Yoko Ono and Katy Perry invaded the town and impregnated all the women and children of each household.
The river is my favorite part of the town, if it wasn’t 14°C that time, I would have jumped off the bamboo bridge to the moss/olive green water and enjoy a refreshing afternoon dip. But no, the almost fridge-cold river will surely make all anatomical appendage of my body go stiff and perky (READ: TOES).
The gushing sound of the flowing river lulled us like an ambient spa music all day making us want to stay in our huts, enjoy a cup of tea, sloth back on the hammock, prune our asses and play dead… and surf the internet.
You see, travel can sometimes attenuate your nerves and paralyze your entire body. It was the point of our traveling lives where we felt like we are getting old (fuuuuudge!): We started skipping the chances to see more of a place, the over energetic days with overflowing drive and eagerness to see everything in a short span of time seemed to have come to an end. We are tapering down to a more relaxed, enjoying-the-moment and retiree-oriented kind of travel. We find satisfaction in simple non-tachycardic activities like talking to people and staring blank into space.
Should we start changing our blog URL to seniletravels.com?
The weather at 5:30 PM was just cool and comfortable, but immediately after the sun hid behind the mountain range, it dropped to nearly 15°C like as if dementors are looming behind our necks. If I knew temperature in Pai can go that low, I should have brought some proper shoes and layered ensemble, I ended up looking like an eclectic hobo with ill-matching layers of clothes. It was a face palm experience and a shame that we failed on pre-trip researching (CLICK HERE to read more on how it happened)
At sun down the night market sprung to life in an instant, before we know it, people were walking along the road cum market place buying all sorts of knickknacks from souvenir shirts, artsy whatsits, crafty home displays and… souvenir shirts.
Perhaps my favorite stalls were the food and drinks, I love that moment when the incandescent bulbs gleam on all directions and the nippy air put everything in slow motion and gave the crowd a muffled sound. I couldn’t remember anyone shouting to ask you to buy items on their blanket spread, it was a far cry from patpong and khao san where merchants are all screaming like they are about to fire a gun if you don’t buy their refrigerator magnets.
Pai is a complete sensory experience: Your skin can feel the thick chilly fog hanging in the air, the scent of lemongrass and spiced tea with an occasional burning weed will excite your taste buds and olfactory senses, the sound of surprisingly good taste of world music emanates from small hole in the wall cafes and unassuming nooks like Edible Jazz and Bamboo Bar. And ultimately, it is a visual orgasm of public art with a muted sense of humor. All of these were recorded in my memory like I was looking through a photoshop vignette glasses.
We should have stayed longer.