The Additional

Location: Pai
Soundtrack: Girl Talk

As a dedicated intrepid travel blogger, it’s my duty to get both sides of the picture.

So instead of heading to Mae Hong Son on New Years Day, I decided to stay in Pai an extra day.

Please feel free to replace “decided” with “I-forgot-to-book-my-bus-to-Mae-Hong-Son-and-they-were-all-full-so-I-didn’t-get-to-go-#fail“.

I was surprised by the difference in vibe that Pai had after only one day. The majority of the Thais left on New Years Day – as their ranks thinned, the foreigners hidden amongst the throng started emerging, blinking into the sunlight as they stepped out from their caves.

At the same time as the awesome Thais were leaving, the tour buses of Thai package tourists from Bangkok started arriving.

They swarmed off, over the bamboo bridges and into their huts for the night, then swarmed back into the streets. I was at my favourite little spot by the river watching them settle in, and I was slightly disturbed by their behaviour.

I asked one of the wait staff about it. She shook her head. “It’s all changed now. It was relaxed and chilled. Now the tourists come.”

There are moments in time that just can’t be repeated. New Years Eve in Pai was one of them, just like my first time in Vang Vieng and Christmas on Ko Tao in 2006.

So I have a distorted view of each destination, because of the unique way that I experienced each of them the first time through.

But that’s ok, because just like history is written by the victors, a destination is coloured by the experiences of those that are there at a given time.

Pai’s vibe may change with the people in it, but the essence of the town will always remain: relaxing, quiet, and dignified.

The next time I need to escape the rat race for a few weeks, I’m renting a house in Pai and moving in.

Update: I’m heading to Chiang Mai this afternoon, and will be absorbed with elephants for the next two days. But I’ve got a post on solo travel scheduled for tomorrow to give ya’ll a bit of love.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.
~ James Michener (1907-1997)

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