Pai Thiaw

A few moments ago I was lying on the bed in my hotel room in Bangkok, fresh from a nap and idly listening to the second movement of Beethoven’s 5th symphony while reading David Mitchell’s finely-tuned fourth novel, Black Swan Green. To complete this sensory extravaganza, I greedily consumed a tube of fruit-flavoured Mentos, to which I have developed something of an addiction. I finished the pack, screwed it up and took aim at the small and overflowing waste basket on the other side of the room. The target was tiny, the distance great. It was a fifty-to-one shot at the very least, but the screwed-up empty packet of Mentos soared successfully from my hand to the bin in a graceful arc. No-one saw. What a bitter pill this was to swallow for a piss artist of my calibre.

This was the first time I experienced even the slightest disappointment in over two weeks. The standard Thai greeting, Pai Nai, means ‘Where are you?’. This is more of an existential query than a geographical one, as the typical answer is ‘Pai thiaw’, which means ‘Out having fun’. I have recently been nothing but out having fun. We took a trip up to northern Thailand, to the golden triangle – a beautiful, notorious spot where Burma, Thailand and Laos meet. On the way there, me and some new friends swam in seven-tiered waterfalls, kayaked under the death railway bridge on the river kwai, stayed on a raft house, visited the Chang Mai and Chang Rai night markets, rode elephants and bamboo rafts, took Thai cooking classes, and trekked through the jungle, meeting village hill tribes in the process. The children were very excited about the arrival of a tall white climbing frame. Here are a couple of them trying the climbing frame out.


The climbing frame went on to play football with the hill tribe kids for an hour (in 35 degrees of heat at high altitude) before trekking 10 kilometres with a large backpack. I slept well that night, even if it was on the floor of a bamboo hut.

I’m sad that this phase of our trip is over. We have a few boring days to recover in Bangkok before heading off on a round trip to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. I’ll probably get restless enough to write up a couple of detailed stories. Not many pics though – I own a Fuji which takes fine pictures, but stores them on one of the more obscure varieties of memory card and needs drivers for computers to recognise it. My poor neglected Flickr account resembles the ruins of antiquity.

I hope you’re out (or in) having fun where you are.


6 Responses to Pai Thiaw

  1. pete485 says:

    Sawadee Khap!

    You already know more Thai than me, of course. Glad you;re having such a good time!

    I just discovered Neil Draycott is living in Thailand (I think he’s on Koh Tao) so you should get in touch and have a Big Chang together if you’re near one another.

  2. mieke says:

    they should make postcards saying ‘wish i was there’ so i could send you one.

  3. Charlotte says:

    Haha those kids are so cool!

  4. pete485 says:

    Also, just spotted the obligatory Singha T Shirt. Fast work my man…

  5. recoder says:

    Pete – I will try and look Neil up. Do you have an email address for him question mark (punctuation not allowed in this internet cafe). Also, Singha da bomb. Not so keen on chang. BeerLaos, thats good stuff n all 🙂

    Mieke – sink your houseboat, put nelson in someones attic and get on a plane

    char – yes, they were cool. i nearly kneed one of them in the face though. (i didnt mean to)

  6. mieke says:

    looks like i can take the entire month of july off so i might do just that.

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