Life in Pai

The evening in Pai is very peaceful. The owner of our bungalow goes to town with her VW vanagon to set-up her stand to sell toys every evening.  It’s amazing how the Thai people are very business minded people.  It’s also impressive on how hard working they are in maintaining their businesses.  The Charn Chai Muay Thai training camp is owned by a fighter and the name Charn Chai came from Bee’s (the owner) grandfather’s name.  Right after every session, Joy (I believe is the cook’s name) brings out trays of food and a big rice cooker.  The Thai home meal is absolutely delicious!  The gym is very much their home and their small young children as well as their grandfather hangs around to help out during our training.

In general, Thailand is very much focused on hospitality and making people happy.  Unlike Cambodia and Vietnam, we didn’t encounter any children trying to haggle for a sale or following us around.  The tourism here is a lot different from the neighboring countries.  Thailand welcomes people and their aim is to share their culture as well as continue to keep their culture in tact.  We can see that in our almost three weeks here in Thailand.  Three weeks?!  I can’t believe it’s been that long.

There are so many places in Thailand we want to explore.  There is a TV channel dedicated to promoting tourism called MCOT World and we saw a few places that is definitely going to be in our itinerary when we come back to Thailand.  Yes, we want to come back!

There’s been talks for a few years now in Asia about the ASEAN Challenge, which is a plan for an economic, political, social and cultural integration of Asian countries.  This is starting to get a lot of momentum right now but there are still a lot of challenges from other countries such as China.  What does this mean for travelers?  Just the other day, we saw this ad from AirAsia and it’s really a great deal.  AirAsia, which is the airlines we flew from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is offering The Golden Ticket, where one can purchase a golden ticket that is equivalent to points.  Points can be redeemed based on the number of hours you fly around Asian countries.  Read more about it here.  That may be something we would think of purchasing to save cost on flying within Asia.  Who knows, soon there will be a universal Asian visa for tourists!

Everywhere we go in Thailand, the people are gently and kind.  They are there to help specially in the provinces.  People are always smiling.  We haven’t encountered any rude Thai so far.  It’s a very simple life here, even if they have full connection to the world via the internet.  Children still walk to school and there are not a lot of fast food places to be found.  We usually see children eat porridge at a street stand where we usually eat before they go to school.  They were all in school uniforms enjoying their salted eggs and porridge.  One other time while we were eating in a restaurant, the children from the couple that owned the restaurant just got off the mini-bus returning from school.  She must have been 10 years old!  We find a lot of street vendors ran by the whole family from parents to children all gathered around the stall selling their products at the markets.

Life is different here in Pai and it’s also a unique experience of life in city vs provinces of course.  In Pai, life is slow, relaxing and the same each day.  We hear strange animal sounds besides the roosters every 6:00 am.  The barefooted monks walking the streets followed by street dogs as they find people who ask for prayers in exchange for food.  There’s so much life in such monotonous repetition of events each day.  It’s really something we aren’t use to, quite yet.  Our transition into such simple life is just starting out, maybe haven’t really started yet because the romance of being tourist is still with us.

Yelling or speaking loud is forbidden in Thailand.  It is also forbidden to litter in the streets.  The people of Thailand also respect the King very much so that they sing every morning to the King.  I found myself at the market standing still because everyone was standing still and singing the song to the King in the early morning.

I’d like to know more about the King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, also called Phumiphon Adunlayadet, or Rama IX.  The King of Thailand really sparked my interest after watching a documentary about his “Royal Project.”  The northern part of Thailand was once known to grow opium as their means of surviving.  He started the “Royal Project” to replace the drug-crops with organic vegetables and fruits to help the hill tribe people.  It gave the hill tribe people an alternative and higher price producing crops.  That, to me was amazing work. 

Living in a foreign country is like peeling onions.  Everyday, a layer of revealing information is learned.  It takes a while to really learn about a culture and that time to learn requires living in the country.  The Thais are obsessive about their culture and are willing to share that culture to others specially to outsiders.  The country has their open hands to those who want to know more about their culture and people.  Thailand’s priority is tourism, it’s a big industry but I also sense sincerity unlike the neighboring countries like Vietnam or Cambodia.  It’s not just a destination but definitely a place to stay longer and it is possible to do.  We love it here.

I still need to get use to those street dogs, they are everywhere…

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