Thursday, July 19, 2007

The One with the Scooter and the Long Necks

We set off once more on an adventure to a little town called Pai in North West Thailand. The bus journey was 4 hours on little windy roads, and Sam's long legs seemed not to deal too well with the amount of leg room!

On arriving, we knew that chilling here for a few days was definately on the cards. It's so beautiful. Our guest house was on this river which came complete with very ricketty bambo bridges. We sat here one afternoon marvelling at the scooters that tried (and succeeded) to traverse these bridges, and to watch cows wander down the road. In the morning the clouds graze the tops of the surrounding hills.

There is not much to do in Pai itself, and if you do want to see some of the surrounding countryside you need to hire a scooter. I was very wary about this. I have seen way too many tourists with injuries from these things, and personally don't agree about getting on one of these things in anything less than full leathers, but there was no alternative. There are no cars to hire here, and thankfully, not much traffic other than the odd elephant or goat, so we set off carefully, to view the beautiful surroundings of Rice Paddies, Mountains and waterfalls.

After a hard day scooting we relaxed in a swimming pool, in a farmers garden, surrounded by Rice Paddies... surreal, but pure bliss.

Relaxation is the key in Pai. I had my second Thai massage (the first in Phuket!). These seem to be a mixture of pain and pleasure. You bend in ways you just didn't know were possible, and at one point the little Thai lady stood on the backs of my legs and walked her hands up my back! But you certainly feel good afterwards and for about 2 quid you really can't complain!

Pai even has it's own cinema - the Cinema Pairadiso (everything here plays on the name Pai - there's Apple Pai, Pai in teh Sky... etc) This "cinema" is literally a house of rooms with comfy sofas and you hire a dvd to watch! A great way to spend a lazy evening.

Yesterday, we took a trip to Mae Hong Son near the Burmese border. Our driver stopped us off at lots of places on the way including a rather unimpressive fish cave, more Wats, and a very poor market, but the reason for the trip was to see the Long Neck Women and the Big Ear Women.

It's hard to know where I stand on this. These women obviously make their money from the tourist trade, and you buy things from their stalls to make yourself feel better about wanting to take photographs, but I still felt really guilty about it!

I got to hold some of the brass rings and they are REALLY heavy!

The big earred women put larger and larger rings in their ears (like some punk influenced teenagers back home!)

Anyway... it was a bit touristy, but I am so gald I got to see it.

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