Sunday, February 22, 2009

In Pai Now

The last couple days have been fun. After I posted my last blog I went to hang out with the Belgium couple again and then we had some dinner. I showed them the street vender I went to the first day in Mae Hong Son and they liked it. I found out the curry stuff is Khao Soi which is the classic northern Thailand dish.

Then after eating we went to have some drinks at the Crossroads bar. It ended up being a big group of people from all over including The Belgium couple, me, a Japanese guy (that the couple had met earlier that day), a German guy, a Swedish girl (that we had met at dinner), and the San Fran guy. It was fun to have such a large group where everyone had different backgrounds, and four of us had quit our jobs to travel.

The group of us from around the world

The next day I changed guest houses first thing because I didn't want to give the rude woman my business, and the Swedish girl recommend a good place. Then new guest house was great, nice owner, good garden, still on the lake, and other good people staying there. I rented a motorbike from the guesthouse to go see some hot springs around the area.

The view from my window in the new guest house

First place I went was the Mud Spa, which really was a hot spring but they collected the mud out of the source and made a spa out of it. There were a lot of people there and I knew I just wanted to soak in the pool so I walked around and found the pool. I soaked for 2.5 hours, hanging out and reading, and then just left. Not one person said hi to me the whole time and I was the only person in the pool so I actually got away with soaking and not paying the 60B they usually charge.

The source, notice the 70C sign, that's hot!

The pool I soaked in, its all about 104-105F

I decided to go to the fish cave next because its a tourist attraction and I had the bike. I stopped at a little monk cave first, or what other people call the bat cave, and thought it was really cool. There was a monk living in a little cave on the side and then you walked up the hill a little bit and there was a big cave. There were buddhist shrines and platforms that the monks used to meditate on. Then I continued in for a long ways by myself. I'm lucky the cell phone I bought has a flashlight function, I thought it was stupid but it came in handy.

outside the Buddha cave

inside the cave

Next was the fish cave, which had tons of tourists but it was pretty cool. It wasn't really a cave but water came out of the ground and made a little river and there were huge fish in the water. There were little holes into the ground that showed the water, and the huge fish. At first I wondered how they got so big but then I realized that almost everyone but me was feeding the fish.

The fish cave where the water came out and one of the holes

some cool stuff near the fish cave

I went back to the guest house to wait out the heat of the day and then went to the hot spring south of town. I didn't think I would like it because I passed it on the bus and it looked like large swimming pools, but the pools were really very large sources. No soaking but it was cool to see the massive amounts of hot water coming out of the ground in this place. There was even a tiny new spring that was popping out of the grass. Then I went to the top of the hill near town to watch the sun set.

The other hot spring, see they look like pools, but are large sources!

The sun setting over Mae Hong Son province looking towards Myanmar

To end the day I went to the great resturant I found with a Scottish guy I met at the guest house. When we got there the guy who showed me around his place was also there watching soccer and hanging out, so we joined his table. Then after a little bit the german and swedish girl showed up. Its nice that after a few days in a place you know people and have friends. Again the solo thing is growing on me but I am about to meet up with friends in the next couple days so that will be interesting. I'm sure it will be great, but I may need a day or two to myself every now and then.

the wats across the lake illuminated at night, I spent so much time looking at them I had to take a picture

Today I just had coffee and toast hanging out with the other people at the guest house before I caught a bus to Pai. Pai is a laid back place, but its just like people told me, farang central. I don't think I've hardly seen a Thai person here. The vibe is nice but it is strange that the whole town is farang. I'm going to try to connect with the springer I met in Um Phang that lives here and knows about 4 springs around Pai. This is turning into a Thai hot springs road trip, because I've seen 9 hot springs so far, and have soaked in 5 of them. Anyway, peace and love to all!


  1. Hi, Andy...

    Still really enjoying your accounts, thoughts, pics. A GORGEOUS country -- green, lush. And, my -- you DO get around!

    I was glad to read you backtracking a little about the Thai's worship of the almighty dollar. As you wrote -- we in the West export that culture, then get dismayed when it is reflected back at us. Just think of the nature of the TV programs exported by the US. And, another way to look at the entire issue -- a Thai parent, seeing the centuries-old agricultural basis for living disappearing, can feel that seeking the dollar is his/her duty, the obligation to provide one's kids with an (expensive) education so that they can thrive in a rapidly changing world.

    Now, the lifestyles of the monks -- that is something I know nothing about. Why aren't offenders kicked out? (But, then, that's another one we Westerners have little right to condemn -- the Northwest USA chapter of the Jesuits just filed bankruptcy, unable to recoup after paying out millions in compensation for sexual victims...)

    Anyway -- keep on bloggin, I get a jolt of excitement every time I see a new post!

  2. Andy -- it's just me again. After I wrote my last post, I realized that my comment was based on Central America understanding -- I know NOTHING about South Asia.

    In Central America, everybody is abandoning the farming life, esp. since really cheap, subsidized corn, beans, etc. imports came in from the U.S. after CAFTA was passed almost 3 years ago.

    Maybe in Thailand the agricultural life is still viable. I do know that coffee cultivation began there in the last 10 years, as well as fish/shrimp farming.

    So, my question is -- how do the majority of Thais support themselves, outside tourism?

  3. besides the normal things like shops and resturants (I mean the street food and markets) it seems to have a lot of farming. Mostly rice, and now I've seen soy beans, corn, and garlic (they switch it during the dry season). But the garlic has problems with government subsidized garlic from China that is really cheep, I guess last year there were large protests throughout the country. And the coffee is a direct replacement of poppies, which the government provides the hill tribes with to make money instead of opium. All the roads to the hill tribes are built by the army so they can search the tribes for poppy farms. At least they go to jail now instead of shot in the street, like what was happening during the Thaksin war on drugs from 2003-2007, but it was an affective way of getting all the tribes to swich to coffee (make a lot less money) and still provide as best they can.