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Welcome to Pai
The small town of Pai is part of Mae Hong Son Province. It has approx. 3000 inhabitants and is named after the river that runs through it.
Just a short four-hour drive (149 km) northwest of Chiang Mai, about halfway to Mae Hong Son, is the picturesque bohemian town of Pai. Tucked in a quiet valley in the middle of rice fields and fruit groves and on all sides surrounded by northern Thailand’s jungle mountains, Pai is a peaceful town with a 'laid back' charm and individual character. Located on the banks of the Pai River, this quiet town has a habit of giving visitors a desire never to leave again.
Pai’s remote location makes it an ideal stopping point for any adventure traveler. Whether you prefer more 'laid back' adventures such as bamboo rafting, elephant riding, and kayaking, or you like to get a little more down and dirty with climbing, trekking, or white water rafting, this picturesque northern town is teeming with possibilities.
Apart from challenging activities, Pai also offers a wide pallet of things you can see and do. Located in a region sprinkled with a multitude of caves, waterfalls, hot springs, and temples dating back to the 1800s, Pai is pulsating with opportunities for both natural and cultural exploration.
Pai is a predominantly tourism-oriented town, offering a relaxing atmosphere with a wide scene for travelers and backpackers. The city's residents are a seemingly harmonious mix of western hippies and Thai Rastas, which gives the place a unique atmosphere that is appealing, even if it is not genuine.
A sudden boom of guest houses and bar constructions in 2006 has resulted in a large spare capacity in the off-season. There has been a large increase in the number of Thai people visiting Pai after the town has been featured in a romantic Thai movie. It can be difficult to find a room in the busy season (October to February). There are now about 350 guesthouses and hotels in Pai, and the city center is transformed into western style with restaurants, souvenir shops, and bars that greatly appeal to the now significant influx of tourists and package tours.
While growth in Pai has been rapid, and more or less every farm in the valley seems to offer bungalows for rent, so the process has so far been tasteful and the city is relatively quiet in the off-season.
Pai is just a small town with four main roads, but offers a rich bohemian atmosphere where you can gather your thoughts and get in touch with nature. There are lots of charming guesthouses, bars, local trekking companies, craft shops, and casual restaurants that cater to both Western and Thai palates.
Ten years ago, Pai was largely unknown, but it has now developed into a thriving, multi-cultural town. Fortunately, it has retained its down-to- earth feel and the prices are still relatively cheap, which makes it especially popular with backpackers and free spirited people who sometimes stay here for several months. In recent years, Pai has become the "travelers haven". The city is the perfect place to meet new people and swap stories about your traveling!
Pai is a great alternative to trekking in the mountains to visit the hill-tribe communities. Once you get over the mountains of Mae Hong Son province, the clean, fresh air is unlike any other place in Thailand.
Pai (pronounced like the English word 'bye', not 'pie') is something of a traveler's Mecca. It is not a temple -filled town. Instead, it is a little corner of the world which happens to be in Thailand that seems to attract artists, musicians, and foodies. It has a live music scene that you will not find anywhere else, and some affordable modern artwork, plus a delicious selection of international culinary delights. Oh, and also, as mentioned, it's in the middle of a beautiful green valley with hot springs, rice fields, and a nice, lazy river. But its popularity exceeds its capacity, and the town can feel completely overrun by foreigners during the high season. It is still unclear what additional effect the new 'Chiang Mai to Pai' flight will have on the casual scene in the town.
Most of the town's population is Shan and Thai, but there is also a small but visible Muslim Chinese population. Attracted by the easy living, Pai also has a significant collection of long-term visitors – mostly farangs (Westerners) and Japanese – who use the town as a place to relax between excursions to other places in Asia.
Pai can be reached by bus, where the journey takes three to four hours from Chiang Mai and less from Mae Hong Son. An air-con bus from Chiang Mai is around 84 baht one-way, and a fan bus is 60 baht.
From Mae Hong Son, the buses are 53 baht (fan) and 74 baht (air-con) one-way, and vans are 120 baht. Traveling on a rented motorbike is fun too, provided you are careful, as the roads are windy and steep and require at least a 125cc bike (per person) – Not recommended for inexperienced drivers.
Route 1095 which connects Pai with Mae Hong Son (50 km as the crow flies, but approx. 110 km by road) and Chiang Mai (135 km) is a very scenic route through the mountains which takes several hours (but is worth it). It is a steep and windy road with lots of curves, so bring a plastic bag and some motion sickness pills just in case.
Route 1095 is not as bad as people make it out to be. There is not much traffic, and you can hear the cars and trucks coming. If you are a bit adventurous, rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai and take a ride up to Pai. You can stop by waterfalls and small towns along the way, and you can really enjoy the trip, as opposed to being carsick on a bus for several hours, and be forced to stop at the driver's friends’ restaurants. Make sure to bring some warm clothing when you ride your bike, as it has a tendency to get a little chilly in the higher parts of the trip. As a novice rider, it is expected that the trip will take about 5 to 6 hours, including stops at places and restaurants along the way. Aya Service offers free luggage delivery, one-way from Chiang Mai to Pai (or vice versa). They will keep your passport and send it along with your luggage to Pai.
Buses and minibuses depart from Chiang Mai (Arcade terminal) and Mae Hong Son. Regular public buses take around 4 hours and charge 75-150 baht, minibuses take around 3 hours and tickets (sold by travel agents) cost about 160 baht. The reason for traveling to Pai by public bus, is so you will get an idea of how winding the road is, and then you can decide if you want to 'fork out' and take the minibus back to Chiang Mai.
To feel less carsick and save some money, take the regular public bus. The scenery is beautiful, and the winding roads are much easier to manage for your stomach if you take things slowly.
From Chiang Mai: the local bus from Chiang Mai to Pai departs from the Arcade Bus Station five times in the course of a day (7 AM, 8:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM, and 4 PM). The trip takes about 3 hours and there is a stop at a small village halfway (very good Northern sausages and traditional chicken curry noodle soup is available, as well as other necessities, food, water, and toilets).
Minibuses, small cars, and trucks (song taew) which can transport a dozen people, also depart from the bus station as often as there are sufficient passengers or full paying passengers. (The expense for private rent is about 1200 baht total, or share for about 150 baht per person). The rear seats about 10 people and is open-air. The view and the wind in your face is pleasant, but not the occasional exhaust fumes.
The nearest domestic airport is in Pai. Airlines have one or several daily flights between Chiang Mai and Pai, depending on the season. Flight time is 25 minutes. Passengers can make reservations and purchase tickets through the airlines' websites, their customer phones, or through a travel agent.
The nearest train station is in Chiang Mai.
The town itself is compact and is best explored on foot.
In order to explore further afield, bicycles (40-100 baht/day) and motorcycles (from as little as 80 baht/day) can be rented from many agents along the main street. Since the roads around Pai are steep, even a decent mountain bike with fully functioning gears might experience surprising difficulty tackling them. A motorcycle is definitely the best option if you know how to drive it.
Suggestions in the guidebooks, about Ban Santhichorn and Lisu Village can be reached on foot are optimistic.
Pai is pleasant most of the year, but the hot and hazy months, March and April, are not very pleasant, which the entire northern Thailand usually isn’t due to burning vegetation (slash 'n burn) from poor and careless farmers. The rainy season is perhaps the best time to visit Pai, as it is not too crowded, and beautiful with rice fields ripening. Moreover, this doesn’t mean it rains incessantly, but the cloud cover cools things down a bit and turn the landscape into a lush, green carpet.
December is by far the busiest month in Pai as locals from Bangkok love to come up and enjoy the cold weather and the "cute, artistic experiences" which is oh so trendy. They bring their traffic jams with them, filling the place up. From January, they all disappear but the city remains popular for backpackers during the high season, so accommodation will be hard to find.
The high mountain ranges and the surrounding misty jungles help keep Pai significantly cooler than many of Thailand's neighboring regions. There are three main seasons in Pai with an annual average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius.
In the cool season, from October to February, Pai experiences a great contrast between daytime and evening temperatures with morning temperatures averaging at 21°C, and night temperatures fall as low as 6°C. December and January are the coldest months in Pai.
In the hot season, from March to May, the average temperatures are 17°C in March to 36°C in late May. April is the hottest month of the year, so the best time to visit Pai is during the transition from the cool season to warm season, which is in early March, where the weather is most refreshing.
Although the rainy season, which extends from May to October, is a more challenging time to explore the town, it may prove worthwhile to endure the occasional downpour to see Pai on the most beautiful and lush time of year. The rainy season also brings the most exciting moments of white water rafting expeditions down the Pai River!
Lazy days in a hammock are a favorite in Pai, with nothing to do except staring out at the mountains or the river. But you can also find your way to the hot springs, which are well worth the effort. Located in the charming forest surroundings, about seven miles outside of town, the springs are warm and relaxing, and a visit in the early morning hours is recommended.
Before you arrive at the hot springs, you will have passed the elephant camp where you can take a ride on one of these majestic creatures. One of the companies offering elephant rides here even offers bar-back trips down the river, which is a unique experience that should not be missed.
Elephant Trek: For years, travelers have enjoyed riding on elephants and end the trip with a romp in the Pai River with the elephants. You have to enjoy getting wet as the elephant is invited to give you a shower. Some operators – and there are several – are willing to take pictures of you while you enjoy the elephants’ antics in the river.
Pai’s other natural attractions include a beautiful, if not overly impressive, waterfall and a canyon. The surrounding areas are fantastic, especially during or just after the rainy season. White-water rafting on the Pai River is a favorite of adventure seekers and some of the rapids are quite breathtaking. For those seeking a more relaxing experience on the river, bamboo rafting on a gentler stretch of river is a fun alternative.
Pai is also a great base from which to trek into the mountains and visit the hill tribes and waterfalls. In the high season there are two-to-three day trips daily to Karen, Lahu, and Lisu villages. You can also get a local map for self-guided hikes to nearby waterfalls and caves. Pai is an important starting point for organized trekking tours offered by all guesthouse and travel agents.
Massage and yoga are also good activities to pass the time in Pai, and a few permaculture farms offer places to hang out and learn about farming and building.
Those who wish to do some sightseeing in temples can visit Wat Klang, next to the bus station. It has several small pagodas around a central stupa. Also interesting is Wat Hodana and Wat Nam Hu, west of Route 1095. Wat Nam Hu is known for its ChiangSaen era Buddha, whose hollow head is filled with holy water.
Pai is also a good point to do a stay on the popular Mae Hong Son loop. This three to four day self driving tour takes you from Chiang Mai through the stunning mountain scenery to Mae Hong Son and back via Doi Inthanon National Park. Along the way, you can experience the beauty of Huay Nam Dang National Park (before Pai), the caves of Soppong, and numerous waterfalls.
The town itself has no special interest points, most people come just for the relaxed atmosphere. Nearby attractions include hot springs and waterfalls, villages, and a hilltop temple. Some of these are:
The Chinese village (Santichon)
A city built by Yunnanese hill tribes that crossed the border in the middle of the 20th century to escape the communist regime. Stores selling various Chinese teas with varying health properties, and other interesting quirks include a man pulled Ferris wheel. The town is well worth a visit, even just a brief stop on the way to Mo Paeng waterfall.
Pai Canyon (Kong Lan) – signposted from the Chiang Mai road, about 6 km from Pai
A somewhat optimistic description of Pai as the equivalent to the Grand Canyon, it may more accurately be described as a narrow red channel with steep sides, and filled with pine and dipterocarp forests on both sides. The steep decline of 50 meters on both sides and the spectacular view of the surrounding landscape is impressive, but you have to be careful here – the road is very narrow. A set of steps up to a viewing platform provide the safest way to admire the scenery and the gap, and makes it the perfect place to enjoy the sunset.
WWII Memorial Bridge (on the way to Chiang Mai, about 8 km from Pai)
The original bridge here was built by the Japanese invaders. The current steel grid bridge, located next to the existing highway was assembled in its present position, but as with Pai's "canyon", the bridge is loosely compared to the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai.
Mae Yen is located 7 miles out of town, however, no bikes are allowed on the last six km of the trail. Go east, across the bridge heading out of Pai and follow the signs.
Mo Paeng (west of Chiang Mai, past Santichon) is a little more accessible than most of Pai’s waterfalls. This multi-tiered waterfall flows through a lush green valley and is popular due to its pools you can swim in. The top part of this waterfall is a natural water slide during the dry season. The rocks are slippery, just find a small path and slide down as the locals do!
Pam Bok is located on the way to Chiang Mai before Pai Canyon. It’s a nice secluded waterfall with high cliffs surrounding it, making this a very cool place where you can escape the heat. Take a leisurely bath in the shade during the dry season.
Pai’s budding tourism industry has resulted in a number of cute hippie-influenced souvenirs sold in stores throughout the village.
A market is held every day at Pai’s walking street where some of the hill-tribe members sell their crafts, but what's on offer here pales in comparison to what exists in Chiang Mai.
Pai has an abundance of bookstores, some of which have titles that are very hard to find. Many of the bookstores are the road at the bus stop, past Aya services.
For such a small town, there is an amazing number of restaurants, most of them caters to foreign travelers, but also a wide selection of Thai regional cuisine can be found.
Art in Chai is a beautiful place built by the artist Otto. It has a warm, cozy atmosphere with great Chai tea, cakes, and biscuits. Good atmosphere to play instruments in. Free Wi-Fi.
Burger House has a new owner called Nat. She and her husband Matt offer 12 different real beef burgers, chili sandwiches, special dinners, pork chops the size of a Clive Cussler novel, beer, and wine, etc. The place is located 100 meters east of the traffic lights on the main road.
Drop Inn offers gigantic versions of Western dishes for 120-150 baht.
Good Life serves organic and vegetarian food at reasonable prices. Breakfast from 100 baht. This place uses wheat grass and used books as interior design. The eclectic and popular café serves plenty of tea, coffee, juice, and other delicious drinks, but they also make breakfast, and vegetarian Thai dishes.
Kin J is a small vegetarian restaurant located between the main traffic light and the afternoon market. It serves a variety of pure vegetarian food daily. Get there early as it is usually sold out by mid-afternoon. It is only 25 baht for brown rice and two dishes.
Na's Kitchen still has Na working in the kitchen every day, serving northern food to tourists and Thais. She speaks good English and will even teach you a bit of Thai if you ask nicely. Na’s has always been a favorite of travelers who stay longer and those returning for a second or third time.
Peace in Pai (on the outskirts of town on the road to Mae Hong Son). Homegrown organic food is grown here, but the main attraction is the picture perfect view from the top floor terrace. Hemp clothing is sold downstairs, which may or may not fully explain the prominent "THC" sign.
Curry Shack is the place where you can order a curry served in a coconut!
Charlie & Lek's uses vegetables grown fresh on their own farm, and the bar has a wonderful relaxed and romantic atmosphere. Located on the road to Chiang Mai, just before the police station. Look for a sign with the restaurant's logo – We Love Salad! Thai food is 30-70 baht a plate. They also offer cooking courses for 750 baht a day.
Witchingwell has a wide selection of all types of food, including some great western dishes and great shakes. The apple pancakes are to die for.
Nong Beer Restaurant (at the corner of the first set of traffic lights at the walking street) is a family owned restaurant that serves "real Thai food". The food is already made and comes directly from the pot. Very good food at very cheap prices. Kao Soi with beef for the price of 40 Baht.
Big's Little Cafe mainly serves English-influenced Western dishes, from bacon butties to burgers, not to mention breakfast and a tasty homemade sausage.
Yunnanese Restaurant is an open-air space in the Chinese village of Ban Santichon which serves traditional dishes from the town’s Yunnanese residents. Standouts include Manto (steamed buns), here served with pork leg stewed with Chinese herbs. There are several dishes made from unique local crops and other dishes with exotic ingredients such as black chicken. Or you can always go for the nice noodles which are made by hand and topped with a delicious mixture of ground pork, garlic, and sesame. The restaurant is in an open-air Adobe building behind the giant rock in Ban Santichon, about four miles west of Pai.
Amido's Pizza Garden – Considering how far Pai is from Naples, they make a damn good pizza here!
Cake Go "O" is a Muslim-owned bakery serving decent treats (try the oatmeal scones), coffee, and light meals. There are a few other Muslim bakeries in town, however, the others don’t offer quite as entertaining signage of the house rules.
MaewChomphu is a corner restaurant with a tasty Asian breakfast. Try dim sum or kaiga, two eggs cooked in a small wok with Vietnamese sausage.
Saengthongaram Market – During the day, there is take-away food in this market.
By Tim Schorzman March 15, 2004
Pai is the kind of place I’d be inclined to despise if there wasn’t so much that I liked here. You run into similar situations all over Thailand and most of southeast Asia. Farang, Westerners, come through, stay awhile, find something about the place they like and then never leave. Over time, word of mouth gets out and others flock to the area. Everybody contributes what they will and the next thing you know, the place is transformed into whatever these farangwant it to be, dragging whatever natives are willing with them, pushing the unwilling into their corners of town to deal with themselves.
This is the conundrum of tourism, I suppose – a cancer that moves from place to place, leaving its mark wherever it goes until it gets saturated, cursing its own poison and wondering why nobody wants it anymore. It is a virus whose only purpose, in the end, is its own pleasure, knowledge and enrichment. It is whatever we choose to do with all these experiences that makes the difference between a compassionate wanderer and a lethal death-ray 3000 culture-killer.
The ride to Pai from either direction – east from Chiang Mai or west from Mae Hong Son – is on one of the most beautiful, gut-wrenching mountain passes known to man. You get plenty of chances to gawk as the bus or truck or van huffs along, trying to climb these hills, gears cranking, pistons screaming, brakes threatening to snap in half, animals scurrying in all directions for fear the Great Metal Devil will veer right off the road and chase them into the jungle. Three-thousand feet hills, covered in jungle forest, dominate the landscape and jagged peaks everywhere. It is an unpredictable terrain – as though God designed it while riding a bucking bronco.
You zoom down the hill and there’s the little town, scrunched in between. You feel cozy the second you step off the bus. There are three guest houses, two restaurants, a small store and a place to rent motorbikes within 50 steps of the bus station – food, bed, transportation at the snap of a finger.
As you turn left down the main street, the only thing you notice is the swirling mass of a marketplace. A lady spins scarves and blankets on a loom to your right. Bead shops, yoga classes, massages, 500 ways to find inner-peace-through-meditation courses. A girl zooms by on a bike, stuffing a flyer for an acoustic guitar show at a Sheesha bar in your hand.
Every conceivable food stand, even fried beetles and frogs, surround you. Fresh-baked bread shops, tribal crafts, motorbikes crashing into the shoulder-to-shoulder foray are everywhere. Rafting and trekking guide offices, internet shops and the biggest assortment of bookstores per capita than any other place in Thailand. A Mosque. You can see everybody, from longhaired, hippie professors on sabbatical, to kids fresh out of school, to punk rock Thais and wrinkled old men playing checkers. The whole place reeks of incense, patchouli, grilled sausages and curry.
It’s a 15-minute walk out of town, across the river and through a meadow to the Sun Huts, my chosen place of lodging. I got some advice along the way to stay there, and from the looks of it, it is good advice. Five kittens, two tail-wagging dogs and a rabbit greet me. The orange and black bird in the seven feet-tall cage announces my arrival.
Orn, one of the owners, is a tiny, middle-aged Thai lady with a soft voice and that cute, homey, motherliness demeanor. She shows me how to write my name in Thai script. She gives me a sample of a yogurt made from herbacea plant (which apparently helps my heart and digestive system) before I’ve even signed myself in. A small pool with a waterfall sits next to a gazebo with books, games, pillows and the ultimate monument to chilling out, hammocks. Hammocks are everywhere. You can help yourself to the coffee, tea and Ovaltine. And grandma makes the best banana pancakes.
If you’ve been traveling for awhile, from places like Austin, New Orleans or Chicago, the Bebop Café is the perfect place to feel homesick. Brick-walled, high-ceilinged, leather couches and B.B. King paraphernalia. The house band for the weekend – a strange hodgepodge of Thais that look like Bootsy Collins, Les Claypool, and Snoop Dogg mixed in a blender – jam out all night playing a Bob Marley-meets-Parliament with James Brown free styling in really bad Thai-English kind of funk. Purists scoff, but everyone else is feeling good, knowing they would. Booze is cheap, vibes good, and half the world is represented. Now if I could just find my motorbike.
Most of the Thais who live around Pai descend from one of the nearby hill-tribe villages. If you hike in any direction, you won’t go far before you run into one of these quaint little places. The Opium Trade from the Golden Triangle extends all the way down here. Almost every village has seen substantial financial benefits at some point. In fact, villagers attribute most major improvements to opium money.
Addiction levels are high, obviously, but you won’t hear too many complaints, especially from the older people. Opium is given medicinally, almost like cough syrup, to almost everyone. It rivals prescription drugs in the West. It’s an interesting problem. “Just try living on two cups of rice and a few chilies a day, in thatched-leaf huts in a difficult terrain,” says Mr. Lert, our trek guide who hails from one of these villages, “and it’s easy to see when someone offers you a 50-pound bag of rice, five pigs and 10 chickens for a crop of opium, why you keep growing it.”
The government is beginning to crack down. The resurgent push to address the drug problem in the country puts these villages in the cross hairs – fields burned, people arrested, even worse. There is growing concern as to their futures without this crop. The battle rages on.
Hiking across these lands can be as rewarding as it is challenging. We bushwhack our way through thick jungle, up one hill, down another, for days on end. Yet from the peaks of one of these hills, you can see Pai in the distance, and the stunning views of valleys and trees in all directions. Bamboo trees double as rice cookers, pottery, rafts, recliners, teakettles and eating utensils. You can even craft a popgun – only a sharp carving knife away. The smorgasbords of jungle fruits are face-scrunchingly sour and nuts are plentiful. We had to beat two cobras out of our camp over the night, and there’s a whole zoo of millipedes, lizards and spiders to keep things exciting.
Pai means “go” in Thai, which is interesting because nobody seems to go anywhere once they get here. It’s terribly overrun with farang, people who get caught up in the magic and forget to go home. It’s a powerful place. If you plan to move on in three days, five days later you’re polishing off your third mango shake, lazily heaping yourself out of the hammock and deciding to ride to the hot springs down the road, which you meant to do the second day.
A night sipping homemade Chai tea – listening to jazz in the Tea Room – a few days of hiking or rafting down the Mae Nam Pai – one of Abodya’s masaman curries – and you’re caught in the Matrix too. Another victim who fell in love and just couldn’t leave.
A Jedi craves not these things.
By Sarah Spence | May 15, 2004
Pai, Mae Hong Son province. People go about their daily lives in markets where they are selling, buying ... shouting at a Brit farang for tapping on a bucket. It is filled with live frogs, stuffed to the brim, while their former family members are nearby, three to a skewer. Flies land on them every split second, only to be brushed away with a bag wrapped around a stick, by a lady who is bored. Nearby there are piles of bright red meat, stacked in a certain degree of order. Steaks, intestines, and organs. Meat with skin that looks suspiciously furry, all freshly slaughtered buffalo meat. A customer puts his steaks on the weight and wipes his bloody hands on a cloth lying on the table. Two stalls down a woman is cooling whole chickens with ice.
There is an exhausting heat in April in northern Thailand. I catch sight of my favorite delicacies in the market. Banana leaf packs containing coconut sticky rice with banana and jam. Yum! At only 2 baht (less than one cent)! Vegetable spring rolls, large, sell for 5 baht each, and the endless stalls with fresh fruit and ice-shakes dot the street. Piles of herbs stacked in baskets with huge galangal, much larger than its Chinese ginger counterpart. Lisu crafts are for sale many places along the sidewalk. Bright hats, bags, pencil cases, purses... the ladies who make them are in their traditional hill tribe dress in a rainbow of colors.
All this happens while I avoid the hordes of motorcycles, which in turn honks at the people. With the exception of the markets, Pai is a sleepy little town, but virtually all travelers who come here stay longer than they plan to. Is it my bamboo bungalow four feet from the river, with its cicada and gecko chorus that strikes a chord with me? Or it may be the vast array of cool cafes with divine passion fruit shakes and pineapple lassis, which is perfect for those hot afternoons? The fact that I’m in the mountains, at one of the few places where it is possible to be cool enough to sleep? Or my perfect yoga place right outside my bungalow door?
Walking around the streets in the early morning is a different story than the night market. Few motorcycles break the peace, but are still driving around. Roosters consistently praise the latest pink sunrise, lost to the east in the misty air. A monk walks quietly down the narrow street. A lady is waiting for him at her door with donations. I see her as she kneels and prays, set up by the man in the orange clothing. She puts her shoes back on and returns to start a new day.
As I sit watching the world in the temple on the hill, I can hear a messy mish mash of sounds. Behind the ticks of the clock and the roar of a motorcycle or three, is a symphony of roosters, chickens, birds, and dogs. Inside the temple, Buddha sits unfazed. And as I breathe in and appreciate the mildness of the temple, the world is waking. I walk past the temple’s Manchester United posters and hear a high-pitched melody from an unanswered phone. A sleepy monk comes to, looking like he'd rather be back in bed but he has to walk the dog. Down on the road below, advertisements from a van’s speakers babble something in horse racing style with Thai comment. I go to find out how many steps there are on my way to another day of thumb pain on my Thai massage course. I feel really blessed that I have begun another day in Pairadise.