I have been in Pai for all of an evening, and I like it. It’s busy but mellow, hippie but not too hippie. It’s like the best parts of the Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street came and sat in the mountains to chill. And unlike Chiang Mai, it doesn’t give me the willies.
And the setting is spectacular, up in the green mountains of Northern Thailand. It’s cool here now, 71 degrees and going lower, which makes it pleasant to sit out on the deck in front of my B500 wooden shack. I came into town without a booked room, looked at a few places, and decided to go with this one because it had a pool and good Wi-Fi and I was hot and tired, and because it’s far enough from the main part of town to be quiet but close enough that I can walk there in a few minutes.
The road up here is notorious, and it is curvy, and the van drivers do take it fast, but I never felt in any great danger, and the Dramamine/sea bands/ginger gum combo seems to have worked. I’ve been on worse roads in Nepal and maybe even Mexico. Once again, Thailand has turned out to be less daunting than I thought it might be. I need to remember that all the warnings about Thailand come from people who have traveled in Thailand. There are travelers here for whom this is the sum total of their experience in Asia, or in the developing world, and they think that the hawkers and the tuk-tuk drivers are overwhelming, and they have no fucking idea because they haven’t been to India.
After I arrived, I got hit with the loneliness again, but I’m working on letting that just be a feeling that passes. I went out for a walk and said hi to a guy on the street who was taking pictures of the same silly English as me, and he turned out to be British and good enough company for dinner and drinks and maybe some activities tomorrow. There are zillions of activities to choose from, and zillions of places to book them: day tours around the area, one- and two-day rafting and trekking trips, cooking classes, archery. We might just rent scooters and check out the local waterfalls and hill temple.
In any case, I feel much better about being in Thailand now that I’m here, and I think the next few days will be a lot of fun.