A Week In Pai

We headed up to Pai, a small town in northern Thailand near the Myanmar border, to gain some strength and recover from our bout with food poisoning. A week there passed far too quickly as we soaked up the laid back and relaxed ambiance of the little town. Our time in Pai, in a nutshell (or not):

At $3.30 per night, this bungalow made for a simple and cozy abode – just what we needed. At first we wondered about the bed sheets nailed to the ceiling until we heard the squeaky noises of our bat roommates, clearly protesting our intrusion of their home.  We figured the sheets kept us safe enough from the guano… Temperatures reached the high nineties during the day and dropped to the fifties at night. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a drastic change within a few hours.

Every morning we ventured across this haphazard bridge made from bamboo to get into town. We were’t the only travelers who cautiously crossed, wondering which footfall would be our last as we plummeted through to the brown river below. But then we saw someone cross with a motorbike and knew we’d be ok.

We spent two days learning Thai massage from a local woman. Thai massage is not one of those relaxing massages. Rather, it is a deep massage that involves stretching. One of the more complicated moves we learned required the person giving the massage to plant her foot into  the client’s upper thigh (while both lie on the ground) and pull back on the client’s straightened leg with all the force she could muster. I came home exhausted with new aches and pains, never realizing or appreciating just how much strength and effort goes into a good massage.

The first day Matt and I practiced our new skills on one another so I was surprised when we showed up for day number two to find two elderly women sitting in the massage hut. I began to break into a cold sweat as I eyed the woman I’d be practicing massage on. She was a little woman with deep-set wrinkles; I guessed she had to be in her early seventies but it is so hard to guess age amongst other cultures. Needless to say, I was terrified that I would break her. Not that you can do any serious damage in Thai massage, but who knows what could happen with this amateur? Oh, but she turned out to be a delight to practice on, giggling and maintaining a forgiving spirit throughout the day as I attempted the various Thai massage positions. We “passed” the class and are offically “certified”  (with a certificate to prove it!) to do Thai massage. Watch out!

Pai sits in a valley surrounded by beautiful, tall, and rolling hills (or small mountains) that reminded me of the Appalachians. Matt was excited to obtain some wheels, so a scooter helped us revel  in the lovely countryside. Although the weather was very hazy so we could hardly see the hills! We will have to return some day to enjoy them in all their glory.

Of course we came across a temple…

and a picturesque waterfall.

On the side of the road was a sign advertising a stop at a farm where a farmer had discovered a huge crack that first ripped open his land in 1998.  It was about 115 x 15 feet and appeared to be growing worse every year. Because the man can no longer farm this part of his land, his entrepreneurial spirit decided to make it a tourist stop.

We pulled in and were immediately whisked away to a table where the kind farmer brought out bowl after bowl of delicious tasting fruit – bananas, passion fruit, and mangoes as well as nuts, fruit juice and wine! The appetizing food came directly from his garden. There was a donation box nearby reminding us that the farmer can no longer farm a big chunk of his land.

As night fell, the main street in Pai turned into the Minnesota State Fair as street vendors came out in hordes, selling delicious food that nourished the homesick belly. My favorite was banana pancakes with a chocolate drizzle, served in a banana leaf boat from the environmentally conscientious pancake lady who did not care for plastic bags.

Our time in Pai got us back to 100% and super anxious to explore more of Thailand!

3 Comments

Ali

March 5th, 2012

I am SO glad for an update to see you healthy looking & in one piece!! Looks like an absolutely beautiful spot for journeying back to good health. Matt, you look like a squirrel on that scooter, but the basket on the front is pretty awesome. Miss & love you!

Heidi

March 14th, 2012

Hi Matt!

At work we are still enjoying, with great jealousy, your adventures around the world! Glad to hear you guys feel better and enjoying every minute of your trip. I was wondering if it would be okay to share your blog link on facebook/twitter for people to read about your amazing adventures? I think it’s such a cool and unique experience that I would love to share with everyone. If not, no worries! Hope all is stupendous and we will try to keep up with your many adventures! Take care.

Leah Plotz Grambo

March 15th, 2012

I love the A frame!! Looks like it belongs at EWALU =)

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