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Pai : A little slice of New Years Pai

Pai Travel Blog

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Well here we go people!  The eve of the auspicious year 2552!  "Hey, it's a pelendrome.  What more do the hocus pocus merchants amongst you need for auspiciousness?!"  Just kiddin'!  So yep here we go!  Get ready for another slice of 365 potential to rock the worlds of ourselves and others... or to carry on doing precisely what you were doin' befores I guess.  So sharpen those pencils; lick those nibs; dip those quills deep into the inkwells of inspiration; get Googling and blog-goggling for ideas and gets those dreams fired up, well-coloured and crafted and ready for realisiation in the year to come of 2552!  Oh sorry, what's that?.. "2552???" I hear ya sayin'.  Well yes, you see whilst yous and I (unless you're Thai) reading this are currently drifting through the year 2009 Anno Domini, the Thais are waaay ahead of the calendric game, their year being based on the birth date of Buddha.

The...umm?... very, very wonderful and unique Darling of the Darling View Guest House :)
  So there ya have it.

2008?  I can't complain, whilst as it came with its usual mixed bag of plesaure, pain and disappointments and joys it was definitely defined for me with good times.  Learning to scube dive; visiting the English Lake District for the first time; clambering up Ben Nevis, quitting my job ("WOO-HOO!") and of course getting more deeply immersed in the TB community and setting off on this grandest of adventures that you're patiently reading your way through at this minute.  No regrets and here's to drinking to an equally exciting 2009.  2552.  Whatever! :)

Plenty of time and a fine sunny day to utilise before any thought to New Years revelries needs to be given.  Jon decides he's gonna hire a motobike and get out to the hills and surrounding sites.

  Paul and I set our sights on a more sedate mini-hike out to some of the surrounding villages and waterfalls.  A couple of quaint little buddhist wats and temples on the way.  We stroll and stroll... further than we had anticipated until we get to the pretty Wat Hua Na (I think it was that one anyways?) which sits, reflected upon a little pond.  We gratefully chomp cornetto ice creams whilst walking through some of the villages on Pai's periphery.  These villages are predominantly of Chinese or Lisu tribal inspired construction and habitation.  Giggling children are reeled around and windmilled through the blue afternoon skies on a large wooden wheel construction. 

Paul and I head on through - getting lost a little - and eventually find our way (7-8 km outta town) at the Mo Paeng Waterfall.

Wat Hua Na
  Lots of young ties wade shin-deep in the cold waters.  Some clamber up onto the rocks above the main drape of the waterfall.  It's a nice moment for me from a people watching point of view.  Lots of super-trendy Thai guys 'n' gals, 'interestingly' and well dressed  and dossing around in the waters.  Paul and I are kindly offered a lift back to town ("Thank GOD!") in a mini-van by a Thai family with some room to spare.  I had been silently counting on this and deeply glad that it came to pass. 

Back in town Paul and I stroll about and settles down, foot weary and in need of beer at Na's Kitchen.  Now, writing this as I do now in mid February 2552 I have a problematic duty of recollection for Na's Kitchen, situated on the middle of Pai's 3 parallel central streets.

  Of all the many fine places I've eaten in my 6 weeks to date in Thailand it remains firmly in the top two for the combination of staggeringly delicious dishes and great value.  Bar far and away the best Chicken Penang curry I've found anywhere for 60 Baht only ( £1.20).  It's great to sit there sipping cold beer and watching Na as she marshalls her troops and ingredients in the central, open kitchen prep and cooking area.  The main problem is a theorisation that Na's was probably responsible for all 3 of us succumbing at different speeds over the coming days to food poisoning.  I can't say for sure but fairly conclusive evidence came the other day when chatting with Julia from Switzerland in Ko Phayam.  We both mentioned Pai to a third party and almost simultaneously hooted "Ah, you have to eat at Na's Kitchen, the best penang curry in Thailand!".
 
Julia then added "... but oh boy, did I get food poisoning in Pai!".  Oh well, I agree with the sentiments of the American chef Anthony Bourdain whose book 'Kitchen Confidential' I read recently when he muses that part of truly appreciating great, unusual and beautiful food is knowing that every now and then you're gonna get a dish that throws ya over.  I'd eat that penang curry for a month of sundays still to come were I back in Pai! ;D

We hook back up with Jon who's had a fab day on his little red bike.  Fell off it 2 or 4 times. Not bad for a beginner.  And no real 'Thai' or 'Ferang Tattoos' aquired.  This being general terminology for any significant cuts, grazes or - most commonly - inner calf muscle burns on the hot exhausts of motorbikes picked up by inexperienced or usually plain drunk tourists.

  I'm yet to put myself in the way of harm, but let's see what adventures hold in store for me in 2009 hey!

All day long the Thai holiday makers have been setting off hundreds of the pretty tissue-paper lanterns that I had been introduced to yesterday evening.  They let them go from their campsites; from the fields; from the banks of the river Pai; from the streets, temple grounds, bridges and bars.  A steady stream of flickering warmth, light and colour drifting up into the night air.  I had earlier purchased a red lantern and fag lighter for ignition, so Paul, Jon and I add our own floating red glow-ghost to the flame-fuelled gathering in the sky.  This quaint moment over and done with - our bid for cultural engagement for the day - it's time to get on with the more serious and necessary business of getting alcofrolically trashed 'cos it's New Years after all!

For some of the evening we're a little held hostage by a floomin' crazy Thai girl called Kaow (pronounced "cow" and henceforth referred to by myself as 'mad' or 'silly' Kaow as my mood dictates) whom Jon had been drunk with (and her Finnish boyf) whilst on route to Chiang Mai and bumps into him again here.

  Should be cool.  Local Pai gal, should hopefully know the coolest gigs in town for a party but this turns out to be far from the truth sadly.  Eventually we extricate ourselves from her eccentric alcohol-fugged clutches and head to a really funky live music venue (whose name sadly evades my memory this far on) and watch a great guitar-rock-blues outfit... some guy from Australia (ex-pat) called Mojo Blue or some such name.  It's a mellow and pleasant way to see the new year in, uber-sized bottles of Chang clutched in hand and raised to the skies at appropriate moments.  At midnight we all abandon the musos and evacuate outside just in time to watch a blazing red, white and yellow armada of lighted lanterns lift into the black night, the Thais of Pai having waited for the Big Moment to simultaneously release tens.
Burning ring of light within our lantern
.. hundreds... a thousand?... who knows?... lanterns into the air.  They're ascending at pace, the little doughnuts of burning light beneath them visible as they lift ever away from our eyes reach.  It looks absolutely fabulous.  Literally, for 10 minutes a whole new collection of constellations is created in the heavens above the partying town of Pai.  A really beautiful act to mark such a notable passing of the arbitrary moment in our existence we refer to as The New Year.

And so that's it folks.  Close that final chapter of the Book of Your Lives 2008 and get ready for the year ahead.  I'm writing this mid-feb 2009 so it's hardly appropriate for me to wish my TB pals a "Happy New Year" but I hope that the year is treating you kindly so far and that you've got your maps and guides dusted off and planning those adventures for the months ahead.

The hills and clouds of Pai

Jon, Paul and I, blissfully ignorant of the food poisoning incubating inside of us for now drink plenty of bad drinks at some club or other, do plenty of bad dancing and staggering home Paul manages to lacerate his right ear open on a sharp metal construct of some description not realising this fact until to following morning, the anaesthetic qualties of alcohol being what they are ;D

hummingbird50 says:
Yipee!!! 2009..yes food and alcohol..will almost kill anything. Happy belated new year to you too!!
Posted on: Feb 18, 2009
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Pai
photo by: Stevie_Wes