A Travellerspoint blog

December 2019

The Outskirts of Pai

A Scenic Relaxing Tour Day!

I skipped yoga for the tour day with Reinier, my new “ young friend” that I met in Chiang Mai.
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We met at AYA services in town at 10:00 AM. We had a plan of what we wanted to do & asked to hire a car and driver. By 10:30 AM, Lin was there with a nice car with seatbelts! And we were on our way. First stop was the Bamboo Bridge.
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It’s a kilometer long bridge over rice paddies, & ends up at a forest temple. It was so beautiful and relaxing that we stayed more than an hour! We WERE careful not to walk together as we did not want to break the bridge with our combined weight!
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Next we stopped for a quick hike to the Pam Bok waterfall. It’s a small one for this area, but it was worth the stop because we were right near the trailhead anyway. The caves formations were interesting.
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Here’s Reinier’s photo of a bigger waterfall from his Pai Canyon Bike the day before.
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The next stop was really interesting. It’s called the Land Split!
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On a farmers land not far from Pai city, the land literally split in an earthquake in 2008. The splits got larger in another quake in 2011.
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The lovely farmer shares this geological wonder with visitors and does not charge a fee. He has a donation box. His fruit and vegetable farm is lovely and it’s designed to be educational also. He has a stand with fruit shakes, pumpkin & banana chips, homemade jam, and a few other things. There’s a donation box for visitors and the prices for the delicious fresh goodies are really reasonable. It’s wonderful what this farmer has done to share the spectacle of the land split. It’s definitely worth the trip. And I encourage you to stay long enough to relax with a fresh snack.
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This month is the roselle harvest. For about a month and a half the flowers are harvested. We picked some and they were all full of ants, like peonies at home. But in Thailand the flowers are dried and they are used to make tea and jam. It’s a very powerful antioxidant, as good as mulberry and açaí, & I’ve been lucky this year in Thailand to be introduced to this healthy drink and fruit.
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Next we stopped for a few minutes at the Memorial Bridge. It’s an impressive wooden bridge built during World War II by the Japanese using prisoner of war labor, just like the bridge over the river Kwai in Kanchanaburi closer of Bangkok. The entire steep curvy road across the mountains from May Hong Son to Pai to Chiangmai was constructed by the Japanese with prison labor during the war. Many died and it’s a very sad moment in history. It’s why we have the road to Pai today.
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We capped off the day with a stop at the Hot Springs. There are a few different Hot Springs in this area to choose from. We chose the national park spot called Tha Pae Hot Springs. They charge foreigners a 300 Baht ($10) entrance fee. Thai’s pay less. It was my first time there and it was by far the best that I’ve been to. It’s well worth the fee to see the source of the spring, the beautiful clean and well maintained park setting, & to have the choice of bathing experiences there. Each area is well marked with the water temperature. As the water spreads out from the source and trickles down stream, it cools. So the pools closer to the source are the hottest and the lower pools are cooler. I stayed in a pool that was probably not more than 90°. Reinier tried the hotter ones too. The mineral water felt so good and it’s very healthy.
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We both were glad to drink our Royal D electrolyte water afterwards.

What a wonderfully relaxing and stimulating perfect Pai day. Thank you Reinier, my new friend for sharing your vacation time with me.
Be sure to follow what’s coming next...I am going back to Bangkok for my last week!
Nancie:)

Posted by Nsevers 20:44 Comments (0)

Pai, Thailand - My Favorite Town!

Keeping Busy “Doing Nothing In Pai”!

It’s late Friday afternoon and I just got to my Pai hotel. The mountains were so green on the way up, and I’m sitting st the Quarter’s peaceful garden swimming pool listening to the birds. I’ve already seen a dragonfly and a few butterflies and bumblebees. The air is clean!
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The ride up today was slow. My driver drove a stick shift Mitsubishi. He was very careful on all 762 switchbacks and on the steep grades. It took us more than 3 hours but I’m not complaining. Like the Upper Valley, Pai is difficult to get to. The bus and minivans that make the trip are cheap They race up and their safety records are far from perfect. Over the 10 years I’ve been coming to Pai I’ve seen improvements to the road. There are steel guardrails and concrete barriers on the steepest narrowest sections now. And the police and border patrol checkpoints will fine you for not wearing your seatbelt. After our stop at Coffee Hill, the last 52 kilometers seemed to take forever. But also like the Upper Valley, the places that are hard to get to, they are the ones that are worth the trip.
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The first evening I walked through the night market streets to see what’s new. I ate at Na’s. For fresh made Thai food with healthy ingredients and a sit down restaurant, you cannot go wrong. Each dish is prepared while you wait. It’s very cheap, but that’s not what we go there. Folks go there for Na’s food!
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On Saturday night I was determined to try the night market food. Everything looks so fresh and good. It was so hard to choose where to eat, but I ended up at Street Vegan 1 where I had a delicious gluten-free Vietnamese crêpe filled with fresh salad and Massaman curry. Oh my, what had I been missing not eating on the street in Pai. I picked up a Bamboo cup and have been drinking tea all week. Refills are 10 baht .30 cents US.
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The many Pai tourist night market food vendors come with their prepared food specialties. It reminds me of our local farmers markets, in Lebanon, NH and Norwich, VT where we can try prepared foods of different types from different vendors. But instead of once a week, and Pai, the local “farmers market food” happens every night. If you check the blog table of contents link at the right & scroll back to last year’s blog entry from Pai, there are lots of photos of the night market. Here are a few more.
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On Sunday night, we celebrated my friend Jay’s retirement and return to Pai at Jay and Wat’s nearby home. We’ve been friends for 10 years! It’s always so good to be together! Lucky the pup was happy to see me too. I thoroughly enjoyed Chef Wat’s delicately seasoned vegetables and squid. You can’t get that on the street in Pai! We also had dinner together one night at Ganita’s standby Mediterranean TKK restaurant. And I tried her yummy new Vegan Restaurants too!
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Monday night, I was back on the street with my friend Reinier. I had met Reinier in Chiang Mai and he was coming to Pai this week too. We had hired a driver in the morning, and had a wonderfully busy and relaxing Pai tour day. We saw beautiful scenery, ate fresh organic food, and detoxed in the hot springs. Check out my next blog entry to see wonderful photos of the interesting places we visited . We had a great day but we were famished!
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We started out at the little pan fried Gyoza stand. Yum! Then moved to the Gyoza’s with steamed dumplings too. Reinier ate his way down the street, trying satay’s and other meat dishes and I had a yummy aubergine gluten free quiche and salad back at Street Vegan 1.
The vocalist at the Pai Siam Bar on the corner almost to the Pai River Corner was phenomenal. We had drinks and listened, enjoying the unique Pai vibe for more than an hour!
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I’ve been going to Pai Yoga Shala for yoga. https://paiyogashala.com/schedule/
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The outdoor studio is underneath a 200 year old restored Thai home. It’s in a quiet location, you pass a temple and through rice fields to get there. It’s a beautiful place to practice and both teachers I’ve taken with have been terrific! It’s not far from town by car or moto. Did I mention that they will pick you up and bring you back before and after! You can tell a good studio by the props! Check out the truck!
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Tomorrow is my last day here, although I am never ready to leave Pai when I must. I’m planning a Wellness day! I’ll start with yoga class, and I’ve scheduled A self treat at SaPaiYa, the very best spa in Pai. Before I found them last year, there were never any capable, knowledgeable wellness spas in Pai. Sure you can have a massage or a foot massage and any number of street places. It’s fun to do too & good to help the local shops in business. But if you want competent advice and services, go to SaPaiYa!
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I love being home in the Upper Valley. But now you too can see why Pai is my away from home happy place during the cold and darkest season of the year at home.

Stay tuned to the blog!
Love, Nancie
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Posted by Nsevers 20:18 Archived in Thailand Tagged food springs friends hot pai yoga Comments (0)

Art in Paradise

An Interactive Illusion Art Museum

While in Chiang Mai we kept passing an impressive building with a large sign that said “Art in Paradise.” I had heard that this was an Interactive 3 D Photography Gallery but I had no idea what that meant. I love photography so I decided to check it out on my own on afternoon.

First, to avoid the bad air riding the open red Chiang Mai taxi trucks, the only taxis in Chiang Mai, I added the Grab app to my phone. Grab is like Uber, in fact it bought Uber in Thailand and there is no Uber here. It works just like Uber, one difference being that you needn’t put a credit online to use it. You can use cash to pay at the end of your trip.

It worked fine and I easily made it to he centrally located “Museum.” How far we have come since my first visit here!
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Art in Paradise is an Absolute Blast!

What is Art in Paradise?
It’s best described as a world of illusion art. The Museum is filled with wall murals & paintings that are presented on two dimensional surfaces. Then using computer technology and special techniques the ordinary murals and art works are transformed into 3-D interactive environments. It’s really extraordinary.

There’s a learning curve. First, you need a smart phone or tablet. Download the App which you use to view the flat artwork in 3-D mode. The idea is that by inserting yourself into the photos, and the exhibit becomes interactive. It took me about 15 minutes to figure it out. I’ve got a video of a shark mural that only comes alive when you activate it with the App.

With the shark video, I was supposed to be in it and get eaten by the shark. And but since I came alone, I didn’t have anyone to take the video of me getting eaten! .

So now I understand the exhibit, & I go looking for some other visitors to do the exhibit with. Traveling alone makes it easy to meet other people and make new friends. And new travel friends are always a highlight of my trips. I love my new young friends Reinier ( from Belgium) & Ophelia (from France)! Huge thanks to both of you for the most fun afternoon and photo memories.
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Reinier & Ophelia took all of the photos and videos of me in the exhibits. And I took fun ones of them when both wanted to be in a frame. We spent at least 2 hours there. How fun is this?!!
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Here you can see how we constructed this photo of Reinier kicking Ophelia off a chair.
It took 3 tries for me to get the shot!
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Afterwards, I suggested we catch a Grab and go to Woo, a pretty & yummy restaurant that Stefi & Frank had taken me to, and we had beautiful iced herbal drinks. And tons of locally sourced delicious food.
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As we got to know each other over dinner, we realized that Reinier was heading up to Pai, as was I. We connected on What’s App so that we could get together in Pai also! And we did so be sure to check the Pai entry coming next!

Love, Nancie

Tip: There are 3 locations of Art In Paradise and Thailand. There’s the one in Chiang Mai, one in Bangkok to which I must bring my grandson, and one in Pattaya. If you have a chance, don’t miss it!

Posted by Nsevers 15:58 Archived in Thailand Tagged art museum friends chiang mai photography Comments (0)

A Remarkable Chiang Mai Story

14 Years Ago...

It was November, 2005 and it was our first trip to Thailand. Noah, then 21, had been in Bangkok for a year and a half. We came for a visit to see what he was up to and meet his friends. Here’s how we looked then!
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After our visit we took a trip to Chiang Mai. We booked a 1/2 day tour that took us to a Temple outside of town called Wat Doi Sothep.
This was before smartphones, tablets and even WiFi. I was using a small digital camera, my first. The highest resolution for the photos was only 3 megapixels. The Temple was enchanting and I took many favorite photos that day. But this one is by far one of my best photos ever.

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Fast forward 14 years. I had been to Chiang Mai a few times since but I had never gotten back to Doi Sothep. Visiting my friends Stefi & Frank for a few days this year, Stefi planned a tour day for 5 of us that started at Doi Sothep. I told Stefi, “Oh if we are going to Doi Sothep, I need to bring prints of my favorite photo and see if I can find someone there who might know the family in my photo.” She was dubious of my far fetched endeavor.

Back in 2005, there were no smart phones with cameras. Not everyone had a cell phone yet. This was the pre-WiFi, pre-Facebook, pre-social messaging era. We used public Internet cafes to check email and photo shops to print and back up the early digital camera SD cards. How the world has changed! Once I brought photo prints of children to a Bangkok lady who did laundry for me near the hotel I stayed in. A year later when I returned, I saw that she had xerox copies of my photos up on the wall. I realized then that lots of people didn’t have photo prints and that they are special. After that I often made and delivered photo prints to my “ subjects” as gifts.
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But the “subjects” of my favorite photo had still never seen it!

On the evening before our day trip to Doi Sothep, I had thought about how to get the photo printed but I didn’t know where to go and, we had dinner plans with our group of 5. My cell phone plan needed a top up. I ran out toward Seven 11 to do that. It was like a mirage when I saw the green Fujifilm sign across the street. Maybe I can print my photo after all. I dashed across the street and into the shop. I had a copy of the photo in my iCloud. I had an iPhone. And I had the Line app that so many people use in Thailand for messaging. The man in the shop said he could make prints if I could Line him a copy. You can pick them up tomorrow he said. I explained in my best Thai that I needed them right away because we were going to Doi Sothep at 5:30 AM and I wanted to try and find someone who knew the children in the photo. He was probably as dubious as Stefi. But he made me the prints I asked for.

Early the next morning, our trip started as planned with a stop to present alms ( packages of food and bottled water) to Monks near a temple. Then we headed up to Doi Sothep to catch the sunrise. Wat Doi Sothep sits on top of a mountain.
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“Wat Doi Suthep (วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ) (built 1386 onward).
High in the hills above Chiang Mai is Doi Suthep temple, a spectacular shrine commissioned by King Kuena, ruler of Chiang Mai from 1367-88. According to an old legend, the king was persuaded to build the temple when the monk Sumana presented him with a bone relic of the historical Buddha. The king searched far and wide for a suitable spot to build the temple, but none could be found. Finally, he resolved to let fate decide its location, and he tied the relic to the back of an elephant and set it loose. For days the elephant stomped through the jungle, shadowed by the king's men, until it reached the mountaintop of Doi Suthep. The elephant made a good choice because the king readily agreed to the spot. Construction began 1386 and was completed within a few years.
Doi Suthep sits a good thousand meters above the surrounding landscape, so it is a great place to view the countryside. Once the difficult ascent had to be made on foot, but a motor road was added in 1935 and a funicular (lift) was recently installed as well.”
Here are some of my favorite photos of Temple Doi Sothep!
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We took the Funicular up! I showed my photo to the elevator operator and she didn’t know them. I showed it in a shop and in a restaurant and no one there knew them. So I put it away and joined my friends to enjoy the spectacular temple architecture and relics. As you can see, this Temple is exquisite and is not to be missed in Chiang Mai!

As we were looking around on our own, I found the top of the tall flight of Dragon steps where I had taken the photo. I decided to walk down. As I approached the bottom tier, I could see tourists taking photos of and with 2 children dressed in native costume. Then, I got excited. I approached the mother doing the same gig with her kids. You can take their photo for a few baht tip.

I showed her the photo envelope and the note written in Thai. The note explained that I had taken the photo 14 years ago and I wanted the family to have copies as a gift.
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She read the note and looked at the photo and said: “Roojak kon nee .” “I know these people.” I was stunned. “Really, you know them?”
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She said, to the best of my ability to understand, that the child on the far right is a mother now and still stays in a village nearby the Temple. The child on the left is 27 years old. The grandmother sewing on the steps, and watching over them as they “worked”, is no longer with us.

Unbeknownst to me, Stefi’s friend and my new friend J’lene, was nearby. She knew what I was trying to do and she caught the moments with her iPhone camera. She had already photographed the children too! These are her precious photos.
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It took me a few minutes and the help with nearby vendors to figure out how to also send a digital copy to this “mother” courier. I did it via Line, and of course the next day, I was also able to send that mother J’lene’s precious photos of her children who were “working the gig” that morning.

We learned that there is a hikeable nearby hill tribe village where this “clan” lives. And people here, especially the elderly, tend to stay nearby their hometowns. If the children leave, they remain close to their families and visit often. Still, back in the van, we were all pretty incredulous that I actually found someone who could bring the family my favorite photo. I Had Absolutely the Best Day Ever!

It’s Thailand, everyone needs to buy rice. #CharitywithDignity & #TravelWithHeart!
Thanks for reading. There’s more to come!
Love, Nancie

Posted by Nsevers 01:48 Archived in Thailand Tagged children temples chiang mai photography Comments (0)

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