adventures in Thailand

Back in Pai and Chiang Mai, my old stomping grounds


It feels so good to be back in Pai where I lived for 18 months, starting July 2011. I walked into RELAX massage, which my dear friend Tiew owns, and the moment one of the masseuses saw me she came over and gave me a big, warm, heart-felt hug. Then we went to find May, my best friend from RELAX, and she, too, greeted me with the warmest of hugs. A great home coming.

fresh ginger and cassava along with bags of passion fruit.

fresh ginger and cassava along with bags of passion fruit.

mts. in the distance as we round one of the 762 curves on the road to Pai.

mts. in the distance as we round one of the 762 curves on the road to Pai.

view from the mini-van with pine trees in foreground.

view from the mini-van with pine trees in foreground.

On Sunday I’ll check into Bueng Pai Farm, the place I call Heaven on Earth. But to save a bit of money, I’m spending the weekend in town. Didn’t have a reservation but the place where I was hoping to stay had a bungalow available. It’s a double, not single, so it costs an outrageous $13 instead of $10 a night. The reason I chose Mr. Jan’s Guest house is that it’s a large property with dozens of tall trees providing shade and wonderful gardens throughout. Hard to believe I’m in the middle of town. I can hear a rooster crowing occasionally (hopefully not at 6 a.m.).  [Addendum next morning: No rooster woke me though I can hear it crowing in the distance now.]

The 3 hour drive here was as breathtaking as ever—-beautiful mountain vistas, soaring pine trees at the top elevations, and hair-raising curves. In town one can buy a t-shirt emblazoned with “Chiang Mai to Pai–762 curves.” Though I didn’t count, no doubt it’s true. Unfortunately there was a person in the mini-van who suffered from terrible car-sickness even before we started climbing the treacherous mountain road. Luckily I was in the front seat next to the driver and the vomiting took place a couple rows back. Still disturbing.  [I know, TMI.]

We made a rest stop at a place that features fresh produce where I enjoyed a strawberry shake. If I can figure out the technology, the blog will include a couple photos from there. [ADDENDUM: Figured out how to insert them but not in the proper spot. Oh well.]

an upper berth on the overnight train. mine was below.

an upper berth on the overnight train. mine was below.

fresh strawberries at our rest stop

fresh strawberries at our rest stop

Tonight I’ve been invited to Ing Doi Guesthouse for dinner. That’s where I stayed for my first 6 weeks in Pai in 2011. My friend Dianna’s son and daughter-in-law own it along with a larger, more basic Yawning Fields bungalow colony. Mink, her daughter-in-law, is a terrific cook so I’m looking forward to dinner and our reunion. If I have the energy, I’ll go hear live music at a coffee house in town that’s about 5 minutes from my guest house.

ADDENDUM, Next morning: Dinner was fantastic and it was great seeing Dianna, her family and two guys I know who come to Ing Doi every winter, one from the UK and the other from Wisconsin. On the walk home I decided to forego music in favor of a massage. I was going to wait until Saturday but my back and shoulders cried out to stop at RELAX massage. May gave me the best massage I’ve had so far. Decided on an oil back massage and she soothed my sore muscles from my feet to my neck. May has incredibly large and strong hands–perfect for a deep massage. An oil massage is similar to a Swedish massage. Today I’ll get a Thai massage–no oil and wearing loose clothing that they provide. FYI, an hour oil massage costs $7 (plus a $3 tip since she gave me extra time) and a Thai massage costs $5.


Backtracking to my stay in Chiang Mai….

After the group tour left for Bangkok, I took the overnight train on Tuesday to Chiang Mai. I love traveling that way—it was my 4th time, twice in first class (when a lower berth was unavailable) and twice in second class. To my surprise, the car had individual berths on either side of an aisle with red satin privacy curtains. I had expected a small compartment with 4 berths (first class has only 2). Despite the set-up I slept well and arrived in CM at 8:15 a.m., right on schedule.

My two nights in CM were spent at my favorite guest house, TriGong. Adam makes me feel like part of his family. Didn’t do much in CM except spend an hour-and-a-half in the dentist’s chair while he worked on my new crown and enjoy a fabulous two-hour massage. I did buy a new top upon arrival since I needed something to wear while my dirty laundry was washed and folded. Sure wish I could find someone to do a load of wash for $1.50 in Woodstock!


Today I plan to see a couple more friends and then meet Dianna for lunch. It’s in the mid–80s during the day but chilly overnight. I’m waiting for the room to warm up a bit before taking a shower and washing my hair.

Oh yes, other activities in Chiang Mai included going to my favorite hairdresser for self-care (or self-indulgence?) The shampoo person washed/massaged my head for a full 15 minutes and then took another 5 to add conditioner and rinse. What luxury! While she worked on my head, another young woman started my no-polish manicure. Though I skipped a pedicure at my first visit, the next day I returned and now have red toenails (necessary here in Thailand with my sandals).

One more thing about staying at Mr. Jan’s Guesthouse. The mattress is the typical Thai one—-made from the fibers of coconut husks. Thus it’s extremely firm. Some would say hard. Fortunately, I like a firm mattress but it did take 10-15 minutes to get used to last night. Slept great until 8:30 a.m.

As always, your comments are always appreciated. Love hearing from my friends.






Author: paulasil

Moved to northern Thailand in July 2011 to help open a preschool for Burmese refugees.

3 thoughts on “Back in Pai and Chiang Mai, my old stomping grounds

  1. Glad your trip back to Thailand has started off so well. I know you love it there and I’m delighted you got to see it again. No real news from here…all is well.

  2. Well, now you’re just making me envious. I’m glad you’re getting a chance to see friends and live in luxury!

    To make you feel that much better, it’s snowing here today, with rain and sleet expected as it warms up. So enjoy!

  3. Hi Paula!   I loved you letter and photos and can understand your love of Thailand!  It sounds so beautiful and wonderful!!  I’m so glad th

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