I came to Pai Thailand a few days ago with the full intent of spending just a couple days and then moving on. But, somewhere along the way I kinda started to fall in love with the area. Pai is quirky, and touristy. I would say the number of tourists is equal to the number of locals. It is also a young crowd here. I feel old! It is a popular place for travelling backpackers to set down for a short or extended stay, and that is very obvious as soon as you step off the bus in the center of town.
But, still, Pai is beautiful. It sits in a river valley surrounded by lush farms, rice fields, forests, and mountains. I am pretty sure this is why I love it here. As I have said before- I love the cities, but I am a country boy at heart, and Pai is my first experience of the Thai countryside.
The influence of the European/US tourist focus is evident. Food for instance- want pizza? No Problem. Spaghetti with meatballs or red clam sauce? A burger with a coke and fries? Its all here. Bakeries and coffee shops are in abundance. I even saw cannolis! And of course, there are plenty of Thai food options around town as well. There are also plenty of shops selling everything from art and crafts, to sunglasses, shoes, jewelry etc. Basically, if you need it, want it, or never even thought about it, it is available here in Pai.
From what I have heard, Pai, is pronounced like “bye” not “pie”. However, it seems that the mispronunciation as “pie” is so prevalent that most of the locals that work in the tourism sector just pronounce it “pie”. When I purchased my bus ticket here, the ticket agent and all the drivers also pronounced it “pie”, so I am kind of uncertain what is the “correct” way to pronounce it!
But, get out of the center of the small city and things turn rural very quickly.
Downtown Pai is very small, with really only 5 or 6 main roads making up the downtown area. It is lively, yet very relaxed, and the only traffic is due to the narrow streets crowded with scooters, streetside vendors, foot traffic, and a few cars all trying to share the road.
Each afternoon/evening the two main streets in town become a “walking street” market place. Delicious, cheap food is in abundance! You can also find local artists selling their art, street performers, jewelry clothing and more.
Though Pai is heavily tourist influenced, you still have plenty of opportunity to see the locals going about their daily business. There are several Wats and Mosques in town, so the religious influence noticeable in other Thai cities is no less apparent here.
Any trip to Pai requires a walk over the bamboo bridge that spans the Pai river near Pai River Bend. It is made completely from bamboo and creaks and shakes as you walk over it. You can feel the bamboo matting sagging below the supports under your feet as you walk along 🙂
And a couple more random images from Pai
Tomorrow I will be going on my first “organized tour” in Thailand. I usually set out on my own, but this tour is a full day with a local guide, and travels to a lot of the places I planned on going to. Also- the place I have been staying while here is wonderful, with very friendly and helpful staff. They have been giving me a discount on my room, so I decided to book a tour through them. It is run by another company, but the place I am staying will receive a commission on booking this tour. Kind of how things work around here.
I will surely be posting images from the tour, and providing a brief review of the tour company. It is a long day! I get picked up at 4:30 am to go to an overlook for the sunrise. I get dropped off back at my hotel around 6:00 pm. Long day indeed!
I will also being doing a post on the place I am staying in Pai- as I very highly recommend it!