Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chelsea in Pai

Since we had to reschedule our days in Pai due to the cooking class being shifted to Tuesday, our Monday was now free. Sunday night as we browsed the market and ate the most amazing baked goods and street food, we toyed with the idea of doing some kind of tour. Pai has a lot to offer the tourist - there is a cave exploration tour, bamboo rafting, canyons, ziplining, etc. I was so tempted to sign up for one of these, but at the same time, we'd been so scheduled thus far that I was definitely looking forward to the idea of sleeping in!

So, Monday morning, we decided to take it easy, as see where the day led us. Yes, there were loads of adventures to go on, but we were also on vacation and part of vacation is just relaxing. We got up and headed to breakfast at a nearby cafe that had WiFi, and I regaled you all with our Sunday adventures. Blog written, we decided to just explore Pai!

We walked around the town, which we decided was much different at night than during the day. The previous night, it was bustling with street vendors set up along the two or three major roads. Today, it was so much more chill! We poked around some different shops, and I am so pleased to have gotten some beautiful, handmade jewelry. We then continued walking to a part of the town we hadn't seen yet: the riverside.

We got to a bamboo bridge connecting each side of the small river that runs through the side of Pai. This was probably the most ramshackle bridge I've ever seen - there were long bamboo rods on the bottom, with flattened bamboo woven like straw on top. You could see through to the rods below in spots where the flattened bamboo had broken, and it was so rickety that having any other person on the bridge at the same time made my heart skip a beat. Thankfully it wasn't too high and the river not too intimidating that it made me too afraid. Plus, there were loads of other people walking across. One girl even rolled her suitcase across (I wanted to smack her).

The nearer side of the river was lined with a restaurant and bar; the other side had cottages/bungalows. We walked across and took some photos and explored the beautiful riverside. The mountains in the background were incredibly picturesque. However, the sun overhead was beating down and we got HOT. After hanging out on the swing sets along the river and taking some pictures, we decided to see about some cold beer and lunch!

As we walked back in the direction of our hotel, we took a side street we had not been down yet. Our tour guide back in Bangkok had mentioned that today (Monday) was a holiday in Thailand. I hadn't really factored that into our plans, but we could definitely tell as so many places, particularly restaurants, were closed. We finally found a place called Dang Thai Food ("Daaaaannnnng! Thai Food!") and walked in the covered porch. When the proprietess saw us come in, she looked around and saw that there were no open tables; she scurried over to a table of two guys who looked like they'd ordered a drink just to use the power outlets and were busy instagramming and.... kicked them out. While we felt bad that she told them they had to leave, I secretly thought it was hilarious. I was also glad, because by then I was hungry!

We sat down at the recently-vacated, four-person table, and as we did, another couple came in. Not one to pass up an opportunity to make a buck, the proprietess pointed to our table and said "You share!" Welp, looks like we were going to make some friends! The couple sat down and we started to chat a bit. Once we ordered food, we started to really talk with them. They were from Canada and had been in Thailand since early January. They were making their way through all of the major areas, from the south and the islands, all the way through to this province. They were currently in progress of doing the Mae Hong Son (that is the name of this province) loop by motorbike. I seriously can't imagine doing this loop; the road from Chiang Mai to Pai was plenty for me!

We talked with them over beers for quite a while, actually, but they needed to get on the road so we eventually said goodbye. Once we left the restaurant (thankfully we weren't kicked out!), we decided to take a mid-afternoon siesta. It was so hot at that time of day! We went back to the room and watched Anna & the King, as we were now interested in a bit of the history of Siam/Thailand. (When we went to Japan, we watched Memoirs of a Geisha, so this is basically a continuation of the tradition.) Around 5:30pm, we decided we'd cooled off enough to enjoy going back out.

Since the lighting was now WAY better, we went back to the riverside and took some photos. We had a fun little photo shoot then decided to walk around the Walking Street market again. As it was a holiday, the market was a bit smaller than Sunday, but still plenty of vendors. We moseyed through and eventually found a restaurant that looked good for dinner. We keep marveling how we are spending the most on our breakfast, a middle amount on lunch, and then very little on dinner. Completely the opposite than I had expected.

I suppose that, as a national holiday, restaurants and shops were not supposed to sell alcohol. Obviously the restaurant from lunch had, and our waitress at dinner told us to be sneaky. Okay, she didn't SAY "be sneaky" but she mimed for us to hide the bottle under the table and winked. Ergo... "be sneaky".

As we were enjoying our dinner (& sneaky beer), another caucasian couple sat down near us. Jessica was facing them, and said they kept looking back at us (they weren't even facing us). I laughed, but soon I noticed it too. It was kind of weird, how much they kept looking at us! As we were finishing dinner, we heard some drums and gongs and cheering. I got up and looked out the front of the restaurant (almost all the restaurants have open fronts) and saw a small parade coming down the road. I can only guess it had to do with the holiday, because it was there and then it was gone and that was that.

After dinner, we walked around some more and looked for our baker-vendor from the night before. I can't get over the chocolate-chip scone I had (amaaaazing) and wanted another. But, sadly, they must be really religious because they weren't there. Around this time, the helpful guy from the guesthouse, the one who wanted to return our money, texted me and we arranged to meet at the hotel. By arranged, I mean the conversation went like this: Him: "Where are you" Me: "Come to new hotel" Him: "Okay see you". He ended up refunding us for two nights minus the commission the booking agent collects (15%). Hey, its more than we expected to get back!

After this, we walked back into the hub of things to look for a bar that the Canadians had recommended to us earlier at lunch called the Yellow Sun. We walked up and down the street several times without seeing it, before we realized it was closed for the holiday! Oh well, we were tired and headed back to the hotel to call it a night. Next day was an early start for cooking class, so we got some rest.

Next time, MasterChef Thailand!


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