Another slice of Pai – the Shan New Year, waterfall waterslides, sunset at Pai Canyon, and a six man banjo team

My third day in Pai I hopped on my moto and sped off for another day of exploration.  I started by heading north towards the Yun Lai View Point, a hilltop overlooking Pai.  On my way up I passed several small villages, one of which was preparing to celebrate the “Happy Shan New Year” in Pai.

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A group of musicians was getting the celebration started early with a series of bizarre looking instruments – a four meter long drum, a seven-gong device, and a simple pair of silver cymbals.  I sat down to listen to them rock out for a bit.

They were pleased to have me join their celebration because after about five minutes of observing they invited me to join.

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Lukily they gave me the easiest part – just keeping the beat like a bass drum on the seven-gong device, operated by a lever that swings all the mallets simultaneously.

Next I headed to the nearby Santichon Chinese Village, inhabited by descendants of immigrants from China from many years ago.  The village was quiet and had an interesting castle and an old-school Ferris wheel.

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Thirty minutes later I was at the Yun Lai View Point.

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The view point provides a great view over Pai and the surrounding mountainside.  With “admission” to the viewpoint, a pot of tea and a banana were complimentary.

From the Yun Lai View Point the Mor Paeng Waterfall, which is actually a series of waterfalls, was a short distance away.

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I may be a bit of a thrill seeker but not compared the Spaniards at these waterfalls.  They were using the waterfalls as natural waterslides.

The danger was obvious.  If they didn’t slide down along the rock just right and didn’t fall into the water just right they would end up breaking their tailbone…

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It was a risk I wasn’t willing to take and more than willing to watch them take, but not without that unnerving feeling that accompanies watching someone doing something that could result in serious injury.

Luckily no one got hurt and the Spaniards could go home feeling like studs.

From the Mor Paeng Waterfall I headed further north to the Ban Payang Lahu village, mostly along pleasant farm roads such as this one.

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The village was similar to the Lahu village I had seen in north of Chiang Rai, as I had described in an earlier post. 

From the village I drove east towards Mae Khong and got thoroughly lost several times, though I can’t be faulted too much.  It was not an issue of seeing the signs, just reading them.

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Getting lost always has its advantages though.  I stumbled on a lacey new house under construction about 3 km north of Pai.

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Eventually I found myself on the Pai River which let me know that I was heading in the right direction, back towards Pai.

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Instead of stopping I headed right through Pai and parked my bike at a never-ending staircase leading to Wat Mae Yen, the “hill” temple that overlooks Pai.

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The climb took longer than I expected but I was rewarded with another great panoramic view.

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I then had the pleasure of walking back down the staircase.

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But not before I bid adieu to the creepy demon guarding the top of the staircase.

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From the temple I drove southeast to Bueng Pai Farm, a big farm directly south of Pai.

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Bueng Pai Farm is adjacent to Wat Soi Khao.

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Wat Soi Khao features one of my favorite aspects of the Buddhist temples in SE Asia, the twin guard dragon-coming-out-of-another-dragon’s mouth.

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Near Wat Soi Khao is a peculiar resort I explored called Baan Kung Kang de Pai.

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The grounds of Baan Kung Kang de Pai are well manicured and the pool provides a great view.

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The odd part is the Hansel-and-Gretel themed paintings on the side of the pool and resort wall.

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Are they trying to lure kids here?  Their wealthy customer base certainly is not staying here for the candy…

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The candy didn’t tempt me enough to book a stay so I headed south and along a dirt road leading to Muang Pai Stone Forest.

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Because the sun was starting to set I didn’t have enough time to hike but did have time to stop and enjoy the orange fall leaves (even though it was technically winter (December) at the time).

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From the Stone Forest I shot over to Pai Canyon.

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The Pai Canyon is, as it sounds, a massive canyon in Pai.  It just happens to be a great place to catch a sunset.

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I would end up finishing the sunset back up at Wat Mae Yen, another good place to watch orange fade to black.

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I started my last night in Pai off by grabbing a beer with some of the more cautious Spaniards I had met at the Mor Paeng Waterfall earlier that day.

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Sixty minutes later I was in a random hut wearing a hat and helping five other random guys play a banjo.

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Twenty minutes later we were outside sending a Chinese Lantern skyward.

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I don’t think any more explanation is required.

I finished my night with a delicious ear of corn that I purchased on Pai’s walking street, and a good conversation with the woman on the right who told me she was selling the corn to help put her daughter through school because dad had left them.

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It wasn’t the happiest story but she told me she was doing well and talked to me with a smile on her face, just happy to have her daughter and a place to live in Pai.  It was a touching way to close my experience in my favorite place in Thailand and perhaps even SE Asia.

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