As I had been travelling through the north of Thailand, many people had told me that I have to visit Pai. So I listened, and took a 3 hour mini-van through the mountains, making 762 turns to reach the small town near the Myanmar border. I could hear a poor woman in the back throwing up into the plastic bag that the driver had given us. We made a stop half way at a cafe and I saw Jordie from the Netherlands, who I had met only briefly in a songtaw (shared taxi) in Chiang Mai three days earlier. After talking for a few minutes, we were called back to our vans and we joked that we’d see each other later. Once I arrived in Pai, I made my way to Sabai Garden Guesthouse, where Jackie (who I met at a cooking class in Chiang Mai) was staying.
Jackie and I decided to rent scooters since it was quiet and relatively safe to drive in Pai with a population of only 3000 people. On the way to the rental shop, we bumped into Jordie again. The three of us got our bikes, and drove to Pai’s canyon to explore the huge eroding sandstone? cliffs. Afterwards, we drove another while to reach Pambook waterfall.
Dusk came and we returned to our guesthouse to watch a documentary which Sarah had suggested called Inner Worlds Outer Worlds. This is the most interesting, eye-opening masterpiece I’ve ever watched. It contains so much complex information that I need to watch it another 10 times to grasp a higher understanding of its life-changing concepts.
The next day, Jackie and I drove to the hotsprings with pools as hot as 100 degrees where Thai’s brought raw eggs to boil. Then we got lost about 15 times on our way to Mor Paeng waterfall because both of our sense of direction is terrible. Anyway, we eventually made it!
We got ready to go out to Yellow Sun Bar and met Jordie and his friends there (who I’d also met in the taxi in Chiang Mai). Locals were playing live reggae music and one random guy in the bar got up on stage to sing Redemption Song by Bob Marley and dedicated it to his friend’s birthday. Jackie and I moved to Sunset Bar where we bumped into two guys who I had met in Chiang Mai. It was a mission to even get there though. Since they sell illegal substances, the first bar is a decoy and you have to follow fairy lights to a resort owned by the mafia in the middle of nowhere. The bungalows surrounding the bar are set up as a “resort” but there aren’t any guests staying there, and all workers carry walkie talkies in case any trouble arises with the officials.
Jackie left to go back to Bangkok the following day where she works as a teacher, so I drove to a Mexican restaurant for burritos with Rob who I had made friends with in our hostel in Chiang Mai. Then we went to Yun Lai viewpoint where you pay 20 baht to have tea and bananas outside overlooking Pai.
Afterwards, we climbed a lot of steps to see the White Buddha Temple. Later on, I stayed at the guesthouse as the owner Yan made a campfire and invited his friends round to drink, smoke and play music on guitar, ukelele, bongo drums and maracas. As I watched Yan’s pet dogs and kittens dance around the flames, Sarah gave me my first dread, and I stayed up until 4am refusing to think of tomorrow, but only of the now.
I will never forget this night. We were in a completely unsuperficial reality. For once, my mind was still, surrounded by people so peaceful, loving and creative. Although I have always fitted in to different groups, I have never belonged as I did here. Yan and his friend Otto recited the story of the tortoise and the hare, reminding us that if you move slowly and do not rush carelessly, you can still succeed. That is where Yan got the name for his guesthouse, Sabai means slowly in Thai. As I watched him laugh with his friends, I felt inspired by what he had created for himself here. It seems like he has found peace and happiness.
The day after, I went for food with Tano (half French half Italian weirdo) to our favourite cafe Lemon Thyme where they basically serve avocado with everything. The food is incredible in Pai. My regulars were avocado bagels, banana bread, banana shakes and mushroom burgers. After, I sat with Nico from Barcelona on the porch of a bungalow to learn how to make rings from bronze cable. During the afternoon, I went to more hotsprings to clear my head. When I came back relaxed, Tano, Timo, Lily and I went to Sunset bar again. Later on, I chilled with Tano, Sarah, Miles and Liv, drank delicious homemade Chai tea and happily painted for hours which I hadn’t done in years.
Sabai Garden doesn’t feel like a guesthouse at all, but rather a community of acceptance and encouragement. Everyone does their own thing. Sarah was painting a beautiful mural, Miles was handmaking windchimes from bamboo, Liv was making clothes and accessories and Nico was making jewellry. A lot of the people who came to Sabai Garden only planned to stay for a few days but ended up spending weeks here. Although there are frogs, snakes, crabs and insects roaming around, you soon realise that they’re not to be revolted, but we are one with nature. Pai has become my second favourite place on earth (the first being Granada, Spain) and when I return here, I can’t wait to stay longer in Sabai.