Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bye Bye Pai

Last time I posted, we were in Chiang Mai. Right now, we're in... Chiang Mai. But we did head over to Pai (pronounced "bye") for the weekend. It was actually pretty nice, despite some reports we had read to the contrary. Apparently the party scene was much more mellow than usual, however, because of the elections going on in Thailand right now. Turns out, nobody is allowed to sell alcohol during the elections! We found a couple restaurants that would still serve us falang, but all the bars were closed, and they even covered up the beer in 7-11 with newspaper and cardboard. Funny stuff.

Anyway, we have a bunch of photos to share, so I'll just jump right in.

Thousands of lights near the walled center of Chiang Mai, still up a few weeks after the King's 80th birthday celebration.

This is a dish called Khao Soi... which we're eating at a restaurant called, "Just Khao Soi." As you might expect, it's the only dish they serve. The dish is tough to find outside of northern Thailand and Burma, which doesn't make sense because it's absolutely delicious. Liz discovered it last time she was here, and she turned me onto it during this trip. Basically it's a rich, creamy (well, the Thai version is creamy, anyway) curry with egg noodles, crispy noodles and usually chicken. You are also given a dazzling array of condiments to make the dish your own, including coconut cream, hot peppers, fish sauce, sugar, shallots, lime, banana and some sort of pickled vegetables.

A closer look.

Not all the food in Thailand is delicious.

One day in Chiang Mai we rented a motorbike and drove up to Doi Suthep, a nearby mountain temple. According to legend, someone sent an elephant up there to meet with a monk (or something). Yeah, I didn't exactly learn the whole story. But basically the elephant climbs all the way up this huge hill, and then dies. And that's where they built the temple.

Another night, Liz found a "rooftop bar" where we could go check out the sunset. She thought it was called "THC Bar" or something... but didn't think that was REALLY the name. Of course it is. The place has this insane reggae/marijuana theme, and we were a little embarassed to be there. But the view was decent, and it was mellow (there were like 2 other people there) so we had a drink.

This is one of the worst massages I've ever gotten. Good thing it only cost $1.80 for half an hour. Some people may have enjoyed it, but I personally did not appreciate this 90 pound woman balancing her entire weight on my shoulder blades with her elbows.

Some temple that Liz checked out while I was losing money at poker.

Pig face, anyone? Earlier in the trip, Gavin and Emily told us they had spied some lucky dog eating a pig face in the street. Must have nicked it from the market.

Another day in Chiang Mai we took a Thai cooking class. This was a lot of fun, and we got to get out of the city a bit. The company we signed up with took us out into the country to their farm, where we walked around and saw how they grow the ingredients to our meal.

The farm was lovely.

Getting ready to make curry paste.


In the kitchen, where we made pad thai, papaya salad and stir-fry.

Our instructors.

Our Pad Thai. Not bad, eh?

I freaking made this!

This is the biggest spider I've ever seen in my life that wasn't part of a zoo exhibit. It was on the way back down from Doi Suthep; we stopped to check out a waterfall. This [censored] was [censored] huge. I am getting the chills just thinking about it.

Liz channels Tarzan.

On the way to the famous Riverside restaurant in Chiang Mai, we had a lovely sunset.

I pledge, under allegiance, to not consume Beer Chang during the election weekend...

Day trip from Pai. This is called the "grand canyon" of Pai, or something. Anyway this path was pretty nuts.

I wish I could zoom in and crop this for better effect. That's me, if you can't tell.

Another in the continuing series of Lady Cop Speranza shots.

Small but cool waterfall we hiked to after failing to reach the larger waterfall.

Pai is a hippie town, and therefore herbal tea is extremely popular.

Colorful display at the night market in Pai.

The view from The Sanctuary, an "expensive" restaurant in Pai. We went there to have a couple smoothies and watch the sunset.

Street pancakes. These were about the size of a silver dollar. They're sweet and a little bit crunchy and coconutty.

A health food restaurant in Pai that we liked quite a bit. They had a terrific selection of tea and coffee (french press, no more nescafe for me!), and great food too. One morning I ordered two pancakes, and they brought them on separate plates.

Pretty self-explanatory.

In addition to beautiful fabrics, cool T-shirts and fancy imitation watches, they sell some crap on the street too.

Rando cute kids.

That's all for now. Tomorrow we head to Chang Kong, and the next day we will cross the border into Laos. I'm guessing there will be pretty decent internet there, so hopefully I'll be able to continue updating the blog and keeping in touch via email.

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