Posted by: facetothewind | December 31, 2013

Sabai sabai, but not in Pai.

“Sabai sabai” means relax in Thai. This winter’s return to Pai has been a little less idyllic than my summer jaunts here and anything but relaxing. It started out with an odd flight. We came out of the clouds and the runway was in the wrong place. Those damn runways, always on the move. So the pilots dove down and banked a couple of frighteningly steep turns to line up with runway and missed it entirely, flying diagonal over the middle of it. They wisely aborted the landing and looped around for another try and got it right the second try. It was one of those moments where I sat frozen watching the outside world spinning and thinking, this could be it. I dug my fingers into the armrest and got off the plane shaking. I’m not sure anyone else was as frightened b/c they hadn’t flown that route before and didn’t know that was very unusual.

Dropped in out of the clouds on a bit of a scary approach to the airport.

Dropped in out of the clouds on a bit of a scary approach to the airport.

But that is the road to Pai which is why I'm willing to take the risk flying.

But that is the road to Pai which is why I’m willing to take the risk flying.

Checked in to my $18/night bungalow at Ing Doi guesthouse. Was so quiet and delightful. WAS!

Checked in to my $18/night bungalow at Ing Doi guesthouse. Was so quiet and delightful. WAS!

Morning fog at Ing Doi. Has been quite cold in the nights and mornings until the fog lifts.

Morning fog at Ing Doi. Has been quite cold in the nights and mornings until the fog lifts.

My favorite little Thai town during the holiday season. It becomes a jammed mess of tourists - mostly Thai and Chinese. This doesn't even begin to show the zoo b/c I can't even walk in the street in the evenings now and there is bumper-to-bumper traffic on the driving streets.

My favorite little Thai town during the holiday season becomes a jammed mess of tourists – mostly Thai and Chinese. This doesn’t even begin to show the zoo as it was before the onslaught. I can’t even walk in the “walking street” in the evenings now and there is bumper-to-bumper traffic on the driving streets. It’s more like the push and shove street.

Restaurants are overwhelmed and can't keep up with the crowds.

Restaurants are overwhelmed and can’t keep up with the crowds. I think the store owners are loving it though because it’s the time when they make the majority of money for the year.

Pai has become a circus. Personally, I do not recommend it during Christmas and New Year's unless you enjoy nonstop firework explosions and reggae blasting through the rice paddies. Not my thing.

Pai has become a circus. Personally, I do not recommend it during Christmas and New Year’s unless you enjoy nonstop firework explosions and reggae blasting through the rice paddies alll night. Not my thing. I don’t like reggae, honestly and I value peace and quiet. OK, so yes, I’m cranky. You live and learn and eat a lot of Xanax. Never again Pai during high season.

Clearing the rice straw. Piling it up to burn it in the spring. Farms seem to be the only place to escape Pai's holiday madness. I offered to help these Burmese carry the straw. But they politely declined saying it would make me itchy if I didn't have long sleeves on. The guy gave me a great big red toothed betel nut smile. Ah such memories of Burma!

Farms seem to be the only place to escape Pai’s holiday madness. Here they’re clearing out the rice straw after the harvest. I offered to help these Burmese carry the straw to a truck they piled about 20 feet high. But they politely declined saying it would make me itchy if I didn’t have long sleeves on. The guy gave me a great big red-toothed betel nut smile. Ah such memories of Burma!

The brand new white Buddha that sits atop the hill at the Wat Phra That Mae Yen temple is wonderfully stark. That is the sculptor in front of it. He was putting the finishing touches on it and taking down scaffolding. It's gorgeous and I hope they won't paint it!

Another refuge from the madness: the brand new white Buddha that sits atop the hill at the Wat Phra That Mae Yen temple is wonderfully stark. That is the sculptor in front of it. He was putting the finishing touches on it and taking down scaffolding. It’s gorgeous and I hope they won’t paint it! (It is made of concrete and plaster, fyi.)

Rob and Lisa from the States. They were delightful to hang out with for a couple days before they took off. Probably will never see them again...you kind of get used to that best friend for a day thing while traveling like this. They were on their honeymoon. I loved showing Lisa the mimosa plants that curl up when you touch them.

Rob and Lisa from the States. They were delightful to hang out with for a couple days before they took off. Probably will never see them again…you kind of get used to that best friend for a day thing while traveling like this. They were on their honeymoon. I loved showing Lisa the mimosa plants that curl up when you touch them. Bye you two. Hope our paths cross again.

Oh, and happy new year to all my loved ones near and far, wherever you are.

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Responses

  1. Another lovely entry balancing the unpleasant aspects of high season with the beautiful and interesting photos and sentiments. Where is that grotesque clown picture?

    Oy! It’s 11;42. Fireworks are so loud; maybe they’ll stop after midnight explosions:[?] I can dream…

    Love, D.

  2. Hi David. Happy New Year from Portland. It’s no picnic here either. I’m leaving for Ft Myers on the 7th and looking forward to some sun. Have fun. I would enjoy some custom clothes.

  3. We will cross paths again, I’m sure of it! Pai, Yawning Fields, and the great people we met there left a lasting impression on us. If fact, we couldn’t help but constantly compare Koh Lanta to it and wishing we could come back. For a few minutes on Dec 30th, we contemplated flying back to Pai for the NYE party but common sense finally took over (unfortunately). Let us know when you come back to visit the Bay Area!


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