Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A piece of Pai, some street food and even a few sleepy tigers

Last week I made the long winding drive up and over some mountains to a beautiful little place called Pai. It isn't more then a small speck on the map - but is the closest thing to perfect that I have seen in my life. Literally like pages out of a brochure for heaven. The mountains are huge and covered in thick green jungle, the waterfalls are bursting with fresh water (there are 3 waterfalls in Pai) and the people are a very laid-back, easy going type that are likely to give you their shirt off their back if you gave the slightest mention that you were cold. Truly a great place. So for 3 days I soaked in everything - lounging in hammocks and riding motorbikes to waterfalls during the day, then seeing a variety of live music and the occasional traditional fire dance in the evening. I guess you can say I was on the 'Pai high' and I still can't stop smiling.
Although I could have stayed a lot longer, I returned to Chiang Mai on Sunday afternoon. The weather has become very sunny and very very hot and I decided that Chiang Mai would be my last stop in the north on the way to the beaches in the south later this week.
I arrived just in time to catch the last few hours of Chiang Mai's infamous Sunday market. It was a great way to spend my evening...walking through the hundreds of street stalls, buying a few things and enjoying my dinner of Pad Thai and mango sticky rice while sitting by a temple listening to monks chanting.
The last 2 days have been pretty low key for me. Each day seems to be quite relaxing and I spend most of my time wandering about the city, followed by reading for a few long hours in a hammock I have finished both books I brought with me - luckily there are always people to trade with.

Yesterday I went to a zoo here in Chiang Mai. I figured since it was set high on a mountain at the edge of the city, it might be a little cooler and give me an excuse to get some decent exercise.
The zoo was great (being the 2nd zoo I have visited in my life, I don't really have much to compare it to) and had everything from hippos, zebras, giraffes, tigers and lions to pandas, koalas, crocodiles and much more. It took me over 4 hours to walk through the park (which was mostly up and down hill) and I saw everything but the tigers, who were apparently sleeping in their dens...hmm.
It was interesting to see the security (or lack there of) at the zoo. The fences separating the animals and people were mere wooden posts with a few pieces of wood attached lengthwise (I could have easily slipped through the railings without any difficulty). Just beyond the fences were deep pits (sort of like a moat) that I can only assume is the real barrier between man and beast. Although the animals seemed quite relaxed and the lack of fences gave me an unobstructed view of them, I couldn't help but worry a little that a tiger or perhaps one of the large Asiatic black bears (one whom was suspiciously pacing back and forth as I stood trying to take a photo) would leap over the moat and through the fence to devour me as I was adjusting my camera for a better shot.
Anyways, I survived (of course) but remained a little cautious as I walked through the zoo.
Last night I met up with some people from my guesthouse (I am staying back at Julie's) and enjoyed some beer and some local live music. It turned out to be a much later night then expected and I am feeling a little tired and sick today.
So once I finish here, I am off for another massage from the lady with the magic fingers.
Tomorrow night I will catch the overnight bus to Bangkok and then connect with a bus and then a ferry to Ko Chang. It will take about 24 hours in total to travel between here and there, but luckily it is overnight, so I hope to get some sleep on the bus.
I am a little sad to be leaving the north. I have met some great people and seen some amazing things, but I am sure that the beaches and jungles on Ko Chang will be a good replacement.
Anyways, check out the new photos I have uploaded and the next entry you read will be from the south...yeah!
Love you and miss you all


At 10:14 p.m. , Blogger John said...

Sounds like an awesome place, Colleen. What's your final destination again? There's more teaching at the end of it, right?


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