I know I’m not the first one to bash Pai. I am now, also certain, I won’t be the last. So much about this place is artificial. So what is it that put me off almost instantly from this place? Why are people trying so hard to be hippies? If you are a hippie that’s cool but doesn’t that also mean you’re 70+ yrs old? Is it the passing, perhaps competitive, stench of body odor? Maybe it was the douche walking around shirtless in a kilt. Was it the chorus of stray dogs barking each night between 2am & 4am? On a stroll to the 711 for water and sugar I ran in to a dude I chatted with briefly on the mini bus. He repeated all the same stuff off of the zillions of other travel blogs. “So laid back here don’t ya think?” In my head I’m like, doesn’t it all feel like a show to you? This guy was looking to be a hippie though, the nose ring and wool fedora (in 30 degree heat no less) gave it away. Also of note is the people walking around all bandaged up from taking a spill on their motorbikes. Shit happens, I know this. I spend my summers on a motorcycle, but Thailand is not the place to dip your toe in riding on two wheels. What’s funny is, I think the hippies fail to see the irony in what Pai really is and how they act in it. A testament to the capitalist motility and craft. Native Pai people know who their sugar daddy is. You’ve been commercialized flower child. You now try to one-up each other with hippie fashion and accessories while doing your turn on the Pai catwalk, also nicknamed as walking st. Where is your gold chain peace symbol?
So did anything not suck? The scenery is nice, with the sun rising the birds are a natural alarm clock and some of the bars and restaurants have done a nice job integrating the environment in to their architecture. Morning is peaceful, sipping a cup of coffee by the river watching some monks make their rounds for offerings with just a slight chill left in the air made time a little slower. In the distance, the beat of drums. Music seems to be big here as my stroll noted a few places with live music. Everyone is going to say you have to get out of Pai and hit the country side. This is true, but that’s not Pai, that’s the country side of northern Thailand. I wouldn’t group the two together.
There are a couple sanctuaries away from the theatre. Most importantly, blah blah bar. A beacon of cool and contrast in an otherwise wet fart of a town. Blah Blah Bar is in fact, a punk bar. Blasting tunes well on to the street. It either beckons you to come in, or rushes you past. Wearing elephant pants? It will be tough getting service. As a metalhead, punk is not my fav but in this place, it was an oasis. I asked the owner, Ghee, what made him want to open a punk bar in a hippie town? He just said, “I follow my heart” well, thank you for doing so. In further conversations, I also learned that he is not originally from Pai. He hates Bangkok and, with the music he loves, has decorated his bar with what can be summed up as the purest reflection of himself. Plus a blowup doll. Just don’t make any requests.
I also did a Muay Thai lesson at Charn Chai Muay Thai. This is a popular activity in Pai. And the head trainer, Bee, is a trip. Very funny, friendly, loud and tough. The trainers in general are all fun and help you learn the basics. There are other people training there on a long term basis as well, give them a gander when you’re on break. Intense. Be prepared for a tough workout and bring water. Lots of water.
So Pai has ended up on the short list of places that I haven’t enjoyed. Venice, Santorini & now, Pai. Notice a trend? Amazing places visually but totally fail thanks to the tourism equivalent of botched plastic surgery. A bimbo so to speak, nice to look at but not much gray matter. Want some advice? Ditch the faux-hippie kumbaya bullshit and instead focus on making really amazing, wait for it, pies! Huh… right? I love pie, apple, strawberry-rhubarb, blueberry, sugar. The combinations are endless. Your town will sell itself and then the real tourism crowd comes in, foodies. Foodies shower. Foodies are gnarly in their own way, just about eating and still care about the environment. Foodies will post on twelve social media sites before their first bite. They will take care of everything. Think about it, alright?