Saturday, May 10, 2008

From Chiang Rai to Pai

During my time in Chiang Rai looking for a NGO I had the opportunity to rent a bike (no, it wasn’t me who drove, it was Yo, I’m not ready to ride a bike in this country yet) and go to the surrounds of this small city. Just few kilometers outside the city you can find a temple up in the hills. You can count the stairs to there, and believe me, there are more than a thousand, therefore the always lazy Miriam didn’t make it to the top. But I could see the temple from the bottom of the hill. Very nice.

Ridding a bike allows you to get to wonderful places such as waterfalls, or hiding villages in the mountains where Akha tribes live. The most spectacular moment was when after a hard ride up hill we arrived to a fantastic valley full of green tea fields, it was like the paradise in the middle of the deep forest.

After a couple of days ridding around Chiang Rai, I decided to go to Chiang Mai with Yo (by the way, Yo it’s my friend Thai, I met him at the end of March on the train and spent few days with him in Pai). Chiang Mai is big city, totally polluted, not green, not valleys…arrghh! But I was there trying to find a place to do meditation before Song Krang (Thai New Year) and it was a impossible mission. Well, actually I found a place where they admitted me, but for 21 days… and, let’s be honest, I’m not that kind of person that can be 21 days without speaking, going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 5am. It would have been good for giving up smoking though, but those who know me know that it would have been asking too much to my free spirit.

Due to the unsuccessful search for a meditation centre and the heat, I decided to go to Pai again to wait for the start of Song Krang rather than in Chiang Mai.

And once again Pai was waiting there for me with its peaceful mountains, waterfalls, and streets. I got to do some trekking with Yo and his friends. There are beautiful forests around Pai. And at last I went to see an elephant camp!
That was a terrific experience… I have never been that close to an elephant, and yes they are BIG. At first I was very intimidated by them, and everyone is the first time, I’m sure. But then I started to feed them and they are lovely. They suck the bananas as you use the hoover to clean your living room carpet. I was surprised by their skin, it’s far from being soft. It’s rough as an orange. But their eyes are nice, some of them sad. I suppose they rather be in the jungle than under a roof in a village. But at least these elephants were looked after quite well. I’ve seen elephants in the middle of the city in Bangkok or Chiang Mai and that’s suffering. It's like a circus in the middle of the streets. Very sad.

I have to recognaise that Pai is a place where I feel at home now.I’ve been there twice and the fact that I have friends living there make it a great place to stay and have a rest from the busy cities of Thailand.

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