Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Great Pai Debate

Temple Elephants, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

After deciding to definitely travel up to the little village of Pai (about a four hour bus ride from Chaing Mai) I began reading posts on the Lonely Planet's thorntree forum--and was dismayed to find near universal condemnation of Pai due to the over development and the kind of culturally insensitive westerners who are drawn to it. Thorntree posters referred to Pai as the Khao San Road of the North--KSR being a section of Bangkok that caters to party going backpackers looking for disco bars, cheap digs and a rowdy time.
Not the real, authentic Thailand. Just a big party scene concocted to milk money out of tourists.
With that bit of discouraging news I began looking for a different destination. After all, I don't drink, don't "party", don't like 'techno' or disco or whatever it's called these days. I was rather picturing a quiet time in a hammock by the river.
But then I asked India what her favorite times in Thailand were. Khao San Road was near the top. We landed there near the end of our Thailand Sojourn and had a really good time. The atmosphere was like a carnival at night.
I remember being truly exhausted from our travels, then looking out of our hotel window, down onto the street and feeling an overwhelming desire to get out there! And we did! It was a surreal scene and we met some trippy folks, had the best pad thai ever--cooked up by a woman with a tiny cart on the sidewalk and stumbled around in the hot, smoky, colorful atmoshpere. We totally enjoyed it.
So I've come full circle thinking about Pai.
I'll probably give it a try after all. And if I hate it, there's always Soppong up the road.

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