When I think back to my time in Pai, I think about the dense green jungles and a skyline of mountains in the back drop. I think about fresh mango shakes from the night market and the easy-going feeling of not really wanting to do much. A sleepy little hippy town where moving slowly is encouraged.
Admittedly, when I first arrived there it was my first feeling of unease on this trip. I had just travelled on the nail biting Mae Hong Son loop (with a dodgy stomach). My hostel had zero security and an exchange with another guest made me feel a bit down and weary. After going for a short walk to scope out the area, I decided to change my situation. Maybe Pai could be the place I spent entirely alone and concentrated on my well being. So, I made that my priority. I booked myself a private room in a hotel with a swimming pool.
I spent my days reading, doing yoga, swimming and taking walks along the quiet streets. I really should thank myself for that because it did me the world of good. I realised that I didn’t need other people to enjoy myself. I also realised that I had given my body and soul exactly what it needed – some downtime. I had been rushing around Chiang Mai like a crazy person to then spend a week volunteering at Elephant Nature Park. This week was going to be purely for relaxing.
One of my favourite memories of Pai was visiting the canyon and I did this with someone I met at the hotel who was kind enough to invite me along. We took pictures, listened to a local playing his Sax and sat and watched the sunset. It’s a beautiful viewpoint high up enough to see the sun go down behind the mountains. To be honest, I wish I had ended every day in Pai there. But, maybe the place wouldn’t be so special to me now if I had gone there every night.
Pai means something different to everyone. It’s all about the perspective you go with and what you want to get out of it. Some people dislike it because they feel that there is not enough to do. I will always have fond memories of Pai being the place that taught me how to be me and how to do it alone, without any anxiety about judgement. I had gone there feeling down and home sick. I left feeling uplifted and confident.
There is no question that this was all inner turmoil and being in Pai was incidental. However, this was the place I happened to be when I decided to stop letting my mind control my actions. I found presence in the moments and, for this reason, I will always remember this sleepy town as a place of my awakening.