I Take a Deep Breath and I Get Real Pai

Although the beginning of my birthday trip to Pai started a bit shaky, I ended up having a fabulous (albeit CRAY CRAY) week.
On the night of my birthday, my dear friend Marie joined me at the Osho Meditation center. Although I found the two older men running the place and all the Thai workers building the swimming pool to be strange lovely people, I was relieved to have a friend with me. And Marie is not just any friend. She is the type of girl that can make any situation full of light and laughter, so having her as my travel partner through the tripped out wonderland of Pai made for a most enjoyable journey.
(Marie in front of our hut at the meditation center)
The meditation center had free wi-fi, so in between bouts of laughter, Marie and I intensely worked on opening our 8th Chakra...the Facebook Chakra.
We couldn't ignore the fact that we were in a beautiful place, which helped us separate from our electronic gurus. As temperatures soared to the mid 90s, we took advantage of the surroundings by cooling off in a mountain river nearby the meditation center. After swimming, we decided to check out the town. Pai is not close to the meditation center and neither of us had rented a motorbike at that time, but as two Pilates teachers, we figured the hour walk in the heat of the day would be no big deal. As we began our walk, one of the many street dogs we encountered started following us, or rather leading us to Pai. After 2km with our new canine companion, Marie and I were ready to adopt him. But just as we gave him his new name (Thai Pai) his owner drove up on a motorcycle and took him home.
We were sad to see him go, but there were about 10,000 other street dogs ready to take his place.
The energy in Pai is crazy. It seems to be a mecca for new age hippies that believe they are either God or high priests from the 5th dimension. As we walked the streets and continuously ran into the same characters over and over again, it started to feel like we fell down Alice's rabbit hole and ended up in the Matrix.
We discovered that Pai is not only a great place for people watching, it is also great for eating your weight in fried foods and buying jewelry you don't need.
Pai only has 4 traffic lights, but we somehow managed to get lost there for 6 hours. It was late and we needed to head back to the center, so we hired a motorbike taxi to drive us home. In true Thai style, we stuffed 3 people on the back of that bike. The overcrowded drive home was enough to inspire us to rent our own motorbike the next day. It also didn't hurt that we needed to leave the meditation center to move to our new bungalow closer to town, and there was no way my oversized backpack was going to fit on the back of another crowded taxi. (By the way, I'm starting to reconsider the name of this blog. It seems inappropriate to call it "mylilbackpack" when my backpack is too big to comfortably fit inside a bungalow...).
I was in charge of navigating the way to our new digs as Marie drove the bike. Things were going smoothly for us until I directed Marie to a bridge we were supposed to cross over the river.
Marie thought we could do it, but let's have a closer look.
It was at that moment I realized I was reading the walking directions to the bungalow, and there was no way to drive two girls, one big backpack and a motorbike over a bamboo bridge. We parked our bike and forded the river on foot to our new accommodations.
The huts were simple and peaceful. We even had our own hammock.
(No matter how good you're feeling about yourself, there's always hammock-ass to give you a nice slap of humility)
After getting situated in our hut, we decided to walk around our new neighborhood. Pai may be a small town, but it has everything you need and more.
Marie and I met a nice French circus performer, and we joined him for a little bit of tight rope walking and hot spring swimming at night. (I sadly didn't get any photos from this part of our adventure, but trust that it was wonderful).
Pai is a strange and beautiful place. I would have loved to stay longer, but I needed to get back to Chiang Mai to study with my teacher so I sadly said goodbye to my dear Marie (who stayed an extra 5 days) and Pai.
Oh, yeah...I almost forgot to mention that Marie and I were so inspired by our time there, we wrote a song about it. It's full of inside jokes, but I think you'll get the gist. Enjoy!
"THE STREETS OF PAI"
walkin' down the streets of Pai
don't need no weed to get real high
cuz we'll still see that bearded guy
with all the stories his beard hides
 
our canine pal escorts us there
makes sure we're safe, because he cares
don't matter he goes back alone
10,000 dogs call Pai their home
 
only four streets on the grid
but we get lost like little kids
cruisin' circles through the shops
pickin' jewelry like they're crops
 
that boy's tattooed from head to toe
he stalks us everywhere we go
in case we weren't sure where he's from
"All American" is branded on his tum
 
walkin' down the streets of Pai
don't need no weed to get real high
laughin' hard until we cry
from all the weird shit walkin' by
 
used to get munchies when you smoke
but here you get it shoppin' folks
fried and starchy's what we toke
eatin' waffles till we're broke
 
can't dare to try that cricket fry
we make the vendor demo why
it's yummy for this asian guy
who munches larvae till we try
 
six hours later, time to go
no taxi meters to take us home
one taxi-bike for us on loan
three on the back, no broken bones
 
walkin' down the streets of Pai
don't need no weed to get us high
fell down the rabbit hole in stride
this place is really worth the ride
 
besides, the french invented Pai