Tattoos, giant spiders and fire balloons
12.11.2009 34 °C
We spent our last day in Chiang Mai mostly doing boring stuff like laundry but in the evening we decided to go and see some Muay Thai Boxing. G was quite keen to see it in Bangkok but it was really expensive, being 5x cheaper in Chiang Mai we decided to give it a go and it definitely gave us an interesting night. We found the stadium in a more seedy part of town, the cute hand craft stalls were replaced by ‘hostess’ bars, old men with young Thai girls hanging off their arms and lady boys encouraging us to buy a ticket – so we did! The quality of fights varied throughout the night, with the best one probably being the two girls who gave it their all for the full 5 rounds. They also put on a ‘show’ fight, where 3 fighters went into the ring blindfolded and then proceeded to punch until they made contact with someone – even if that was the referee! The ref went down several times much to the crowd’s amusement.
We were up early the next morning for our journey to Pai. We got a minivan up there which cost us about £3 each for a 3 hour journey. It may have been a cheap journey but it certainly wasn’t the best we have ever had! Apparently there are 726 curves between Chiang Mai and Pai and we really felt them as we were on the back seat of the minivan. We were both feeling a little queasy by the time we arrived at lunchtime. We spent the afternoon at the pool soaking up a bit of sun and recovering from the journey. We found the place we stayed at on the internet as it had rave reviews, I rapidly went off it after looking up when I was on the loo to find the most ENORMOUS spider right in front of me. All of you that know me well, know that spiders are really not my thing so as you can imagine I spent the rest of the night trying desperately not to need the toilet but doing the exact opposite and making G go and check each time where it was before stepping in there! We then spent the night being kept awake by God only knows what running around in/on (???) the roof sporadically throughout the night interspersed with a bunch of cockerels doing their cock-a-doodle-do’ing on and off well before dawn!!! A 3am conversation resulted in the decision to move guesthouse as soon as we got up the next morning!!!
Day 2 in Pai started with a move to Mr Jan’s, a lovely place where the owner proudly shares his bananas with anyone stepping foot through his gate! We settled in and then hired a bike for the day to go and explore the area around Pai. It is such a stunning place, surrounded by tree covered mountains, colourful fields and little rivers. The sky was brilliant blue with just a few fluffy white clouds and our few hours riding around were a really nice way to spend part of the day. But what to do for the rest of the day……?
For a long time Gerald has been thinking about getting another tattoo and since being on our trip we have ventured into several tattoo places to check out their books and get inspiration. He knew he wanted a gecko and so over the last 3 months he has been gathering inspiration and sketching his ideas as best as he can. Pai seemed like the perfect place to make the ideas become reality as the streets are lined with tattooists. We checked some out and the third place we came to seemed to be the perfect one so after a lot of discussion a deposit was handed over and they went off to draw a one off gecko based on everything Gerald was trying to get across – always easy when you speak different languages!!! Anyway we went back after an hour and saw the design which perfectly portrayed everything that had been mentioned. After 2 hours on the table and a lot of grimacing (a face which reminded me of last week in the taxi back to Bangkok!!) and toe curling, G walked out a proud owner of a bamboo ink tattoo. Bamboo tattoos are so different from the machine ones we have both previously experienced, first off there is NO blood whatsoever, they heal so much quicker and you can go in the sun/swimming pool immediately too. G said the pain is different, more intense but over much quicker. Anyway the finished result looks great and already looks fully healed now all the redness has gone down and it’s only been 2 hours since it was finished.
We finished the night by buying what looks like one of those paper lampshades. They have little rings underneath soaked in some kind of fuel. The idea is you set the ring alight and let the heat rise into the paper making it take off and float off into the night, bringing you good luck. We took ours down to the river and then set it off watching it rise high into the star filled sky until either it got too high to see or burned out!
Tomorrow we leave Pai to head to the Laos border, we will be getting the slow boat down the Mekong over 2 days which we have heard is slow and uncomfortable but with the most spectacular views you can imagine, apparently it has to be done – so we are!
Anyway, til next time