To get to our next destination, we took a 3 hour bus ride along a winding road up into the mountains. When I say winding, I mean there was no straight-away for 100 metres for the last 2 hours. There were 762 curves along the way.....at least that's what the T-shirts say. And the traffic was pretty bad; little did we know that meant the town was going to be packed, which is unusual for the little sleepy town. There were many Thai tourists, mostly from bangkok because it was written up in magazines and was advertised on tv; consequently, a ton of folks from Bangkok had descended upon little Pai for their holiday weekend. They take pictures of the funniest things: themselves in front of 7-11 for instance, or in front of the postcard rack of a small shop....not that there's anything wrong with that.....we just found it......different.
The town was fully booked, so we tried to find a place on hostels.com. Assuming it would be a hostel, albeit an expensive one, we booked a place just outside of town. Well, we were very wrong, it was a 4 star hotel with our own bungalow, which was the nicest place we've stayed in weeks, complete with a duvey, cable TV, HOT water (It is definitely a luxury for the majority of the world), air-conditioning, which we didn't need cause it's chilly up in the north; it was very nice. We were about 1.5km outside of town, so we had to walk into and out of town unless we caught the shuttle.
The town itself was described to us by some locals as a small sleep artsy town. It's really too bad we didn't get to see it that way most of the time. We did get a glimpse of it as we were leaving and saw why people love it so much. It was crowded for us, though the art galleries did show some nice local artists. And the hill tribes sent down some folks to sell some wares, of which we did buy some. I got a great sweatshirt hand-dyed and hand-woven, along with a pair of comfy pants and a long pair of shorts, and Laurie got some presents for folks.
There were lots of parties being advertised for New Years and we ended up at a bar with some folks and had some good fun that night. We met a couple of nice guys from oregon and hung out with them most of the night. During the night, there were tons of fireworks going off and people were setting off tons of these lanterns that fly up into the sky due to a flame powering it. It's kind of like a mini-hot-air balloon. Unfortunately, the lanterns do come back down and litter the ground eventually. Nonetheless, they look like glowing stars when they get high up and it makes the sky look really pretty. We had seen it done every night we were there, but on New Year's Eve, everyone was doing it. I think it's a good luck custom for the new year or something. We ended up walking home that night and slept well and ended up just lazing around town the next afternoon. We ended up leaving Pai shortly after and heading back to Chiang Mai.