Epic Pai: Games, Guitar and Ganja (1 of 3)
Instead of creating a Pai travel guide, I would go oldskul travel blogging and share you my experience, a story… an epic one about Pai. Note the word before Pai (and to think this is just the first of the three-part series). The Chiang Mai guesthouse owner who became my friend kept on telling me to go to Pai. He said, “Go to Pai, party, you’ll enjoy it there. Maybe 1 week, good for you.” Maybe he just wanted me out of his guesthouse. haha I was enjoying the Old City and the cozy cafes I just don’t want to move my ass. This 100 Days of Backpacking Southeast Asia is so different with my previous 100 Days in the Philippines because I didn’t have an itinerary here abroad. In the Philippines, I was moving from town-to-town after 2-3 days while here in Southeast Asia, I was taking it slow. Trying to feel the place for at least a week before moving on. I stayed in Chiang Mai for almost a month until one night, five German girls arrived in the guesthouse where I am staying and was staying only for a night, going up to Pai the next morning. I got along well with one of them, Elif, and so I thought it was a perfect time to move to Pai, I wanted to have some people to join me in my journey. There were six of us now- Me, Elif, Laura, Lisa, Marie and Paula.
We barely had enough sleep on our last night in Chiang Mai and after a late breakfast, we took the minivan to Pai, 762 curves for 4 hours, we set foot on the “hippie town” just in time for the sunset. They already had their hostel and since I didn’t do my homework, I just booked the same hostel- 250Baht/night along the walking street. I thought it was expensive for a dorm room. Oh well, just for a night.
We walked around Pai sampling the night market, which is a smaller version of Chiang Mai’s night market. But it has a different feel and instantly the slow vibe of Pai had an effect on me.
Our heads are still rolling after that crazy drive along the serpentine mountain road and we thought some cocktails before going to bed would help. We went to Spirit bar where they have cozy lounges and lay around seats, local musicians entertaining guests form all over the world. Pai is famous for its art and music scene.
Every bar closes at 12mn but Elif and I are just starting to groove. When my tequila sunrise was almost half, an Aussie fairy DJ by the name of Kim joined us in our circle and started chatting. Pai has this family vibe, it was like (for lack of better term) “cool” travelers meet and the “uncool” either go back to Chiang Mai or move to the next destination. The other four Germans went back to the hostel while Kim brought us to a “secret” gathering where she said, some itinerant musicians are jamming. Times like this, I always answer, “WHY NOT?” And so off we broomed our way about 5 minutes from Spirit bar on a steep uphill and found ourselves amidst some ricefields, the sky was raven with some stars, the simple hut in sepia lighting, Mother Nature is near.
We went inside the hut and people started to come with beers and rhums. A musician couple started to play flute and guitar, while some drummed and shake the maracas. It was like a scene of Bob Marley’s “We’re Jamming…”
Ooh, yeah! All right!
I wanna jam it wid you.
We’re jammin’, jammin’,
And I hope you like jammin’, too.
Ain’t no rules, ain’t no vow, we can do it anyhow:
I’n’I will see you through,
‘Cos everyday we pay the price with a little sacrifice,
Jammin’ till the jam is through.
Bossanova was the genre and all present began to form an imaginary circle, with Chang and other with Sang Som on the rocks (a local dark rhum). One started to roll a spliff… Two Danish girls invited us to play some cards. We can’t believe what was happening as our senses feasted on everything- the smoke of Northern Thailand grass, the melody from the strings and air, the coldness of the wind, tipsy nomads, smiling faces and cozy hang out. We were high- with life and everything around us. Hey Pai, it was just our first night and you already gave it your all. Epic night of card games, guitar and ganja Pai-style.
Maybe “EPIC” is an understatement? You have to find out on the next installment…
Where is Pai btw?
Pai according to Uncle G: A small town in northern Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province, near the Myanmar border, about 146 km (91 mi) northwest of Chiang Mai on the northern route to Mae Hong Son. It lies on the Pai River. Pai was once a quiet market village inhabited by Shan people (ethnic Tai) whose culture is influenced by Burma. Today, Pai primarily thrives on tourism. Well-known among backpackers for its relaxed atmosphere, the town is full of cheap guesthouses, souvenir shops, and restaurants. In the environs of the town are spas and elephant camps. Further outside of town, there are several waterfalls and a number of natural hot springs.