Saturday, December 22, 2007


Pai is described in Lonely Planet's Southeast Asia on a Shoestring: "Pai emerged from nowhere in a cool, moist corner of a mountain-fortressed valley along a rambling river. Foreigners stumbled through here on their way to somewhere else and realised Pai was a mountain paradise of easy living." They couldn't have been more accurate. The small streets of Pai were filed with Thai, Chinese, and caucasian tourists. Bakeries serving croissants, donuts, and other baked delicacies had their registers ringing. Restaurants, bars, and food stands ensured nobody went hungry or thirsty. Guest houses lined the river to accomodate Pai's neverending tourist stream. Finally, shops regularly sold their "Pailism", "Pairadise", and "All roads lead to Pai" T-shirts. This was the Thai equivalent to Colorado's Republic of Boulder! Pai is a four hour bus ride from Chiang Mai along winding roads through mountainous terrain. The town lies along a river in a valley surrounded by mountains. It's difficult enough to get to that you aren't sharing the town with every tourist in Thailand.

Laura and I decided this was the place to rent our motor scooter. The valley was large, and the population was small. Laura had experience driving her father's scooter so she started us into the valley of Pai. I've never had the rumbling power of a Harley Davidson under my control and this may be the closest I get. We rented a 125cc Yamaha scooter. I donned my helmet and shades as I opped into the driver's seat missing only an iPod loaded with Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild". Luckily, as the high-pitched motor "weeeeee"'d at 60 km/h, I recalled the tune in my head.

Our first stop was Thom's Pai Elephant Camp. We requested a bareback elephant ride, and the lady proceeded to ask us if we wished to bathe with the elephant. Bathe with the elephant??? She then showed us a photo of people riding on an elephant that walked in a riverbed. Don't know if I'd call that bathing but sure, sign us up. We were to ride on Phanom, a gigantic elephant. As I approached Phanom, he lifted his front leg. I was told to grab his ear, step up on the raised leg, and throw myself over Phanom. Easier said than done.

Laura proceeded to do the same requiring a few butt pushes to get herself up there.

Finally, we were riding bareback on Phanom.

He waddled down to the river, occasionally wandering against his trainer's orders to get some fresh vegetation. Once at the river, we were told to dismount and remove any clothing that we didn't want to get wet. Then, I was told to mount Phamon behind his head while Laura remained on his back. Once mounted, Phamon entered the center of the riverbed. He proceeded to load up on water and then pointed his trunk back at us and soaked us! He did this enough to drench us both in water; then, he hunkered down his head and shook me off. Plop, right into the riverbed! Laura was then told to climb up to his neck where he same happened to her We repeated this five times, much to our delight. Even Phanom seemed to be enjoying it. When Phanom returned us to camp, we were elated to be on the best elephant ride ever.

The rest of the day, we rode our scooter around the valley stopping at bar, waterfalls, and wats (a good combo of nature, beer, and Buddhist enlightenment). We enjoyed the sunset over the valley from a mountain bar.

Now, we are leaving Thailand to Muang Sing, Laos. We are expecting to sacrifice many of the amenities we've had in Thailand. Don't miss the Lanna Muay Thai post below.


Anonymous said...

what great fun that elephant ride sounds--so much better than one at parc safari in Canada. the entry about the foods of Thailand was very interesting too; much of it sounds really good especially if you can get a beer each time so you can put out any fires or drowned a taste you weren't expecting.looking for some good eats at Grams for Xmas soon Hope you enjoy Laos half as much as you have Thailand. 2 whole days without snow--a small miracle this year!!!! LOVE DAD

Anonymous said...

Mom showed Brady your latest message and he just adored all the pictures of the elephant ride--he hollered to each of us to come see uncle J and the elephant-- we had to look at each pic at least 20 times; but he wanted to know where you were going with that elephant and auntie Laura. he noticed there was another elephant in the background of the pics too and wanted to see that one better so bad-he was really excited and wouldn't let anyone else work the mouse for a long time. HAPPY NEW YEAR DAD

Greg said...

Holy mackerel .... it's Peter Fonda in a red helmet.

You Lucky dogs once more - this time swimming with the elephants. Indeed he was a big boy.

I see the riddles in the next blog entry that you momma mentioned. So can not make entry there until I work on them a tad. My brain is still conjuring up images from the first one.

bye for now.