This is the second installment on our trip to the Mae Hong Son province.  Initially I considered running it all together into one long special.   More, I was tempted because I really enjoyed Mae Hong Son and I weighed putting all the information together in one ‘special’, vs. four separate shorter pieces while keeping the regular column format intact.  

 

What was it about Mae Hong Son that go to me, that ‘settled’ my spirit in such a significant way?  I wish I knew the answer.  Perhaps it’s because there is a such a stark contrast between the small towns like Pai which you can find throughout the province, and the busy metropolitans like Bangkok and Chiang Mai.  Perhaps it’s the slower pace of a more genuine and honest people, compared to the predator nature so common in the bigger cities.  Or maybe it’s just the feeling I had during my time there, peaceful, happy, relaxed, and almost spiritual.  I don’t know the answer, but I highly recommend you take 5-10 days and visit the area.  

 

This week I’m going to give you a ‘feel’ for Pai.  What it looks like, what you can expect to find there, different restaurants, guest houses, and more.  Let’s start with the few traditional massage parlors were Thai Traditional Massage is practiced.  The work ethic and value of these establishments are remarkable.  Prepare yourself for a slightly different, but much better massage experience.

 

 

This week I’m going to give you a ‘feel’ for Pai.  What it looks like, what you can expect to find there, different restaurants, guest houses, and more.  Let’s start with the few traditional massage parlors were Thai Traditional Massage is practiced.  The work ethic and value of these establishments are remarkable.  Prepare yourself for a slightly different, but much better massage experience.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5  1/40th  42mm  ISO 800

 

 

This quiet street is the most busy street in Pai, and it’s typical of all the streets in town.  Easy street parking, clean mostly obstacle free sidewalks, cool temperatures, and all the fresh clean air you care to breath in.

 

 

This quiet street is the most busy street in Pai, and it’s typical of all the streets in town.  Easy street parking, clean mostly obstacle free sidewalks, cool temperatures, and all the fresh clean air you care to breath in.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5  1/50th  43mm  ISO 160

 

 

They do film in Pai!  And you can also buy small digital supplies such as memory cards, chargers, and  batteries for the more common models.  Don’t expect much more than this.

 

 

They do film in Pai!  And you can also buy small digital supplies such as memory cards, chargers, and  batteries for the more common models.  Don’t expect much more than this.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5  1/20th  24mm  ISO 400

 

 

Everywhere you look you’ll find western style restaurants and most I visited are a very good value with food on par with many of the better like Bangkok counterparts.  This one restaurant has Mexican, BBQ, Pizza, and Thai food.  Still, go by the common sense rule of thumb, if a restaurant has man customers it’s probably because they have good food at reasonable prices.  If not..

 

 

They do film in Pai!  And you can also buy small digital supplies such as memory cards, chargers, and  batteries for the more common models.  Don’t expect much more than this.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5  1/60th  62mm  ISO 800

 

 

This is a genuine deli.  Fresh cold cuts, cheeses, and bread baked daily.  I can’t say enough about how nice it is to be able to easily park outside most any place in town.

 

 

This is a genuine deli.  Fresh cold cuts, cheeses, and bread baked daily.  I can’t say enough about how nice it is to be able to easily park outside most any place in town.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5  1/40th  42mm  ISO 800

 

 

Of course there are plenty of outdoor Thai food places and most I saw were clean and comfortable.  Cool, almost chilly evenings, lend themselves nicely to outdoor dining.  In fact, I ate almost every meal either outdoors or in a restaurant without air conditioning and never once did I feel uncomfortable or shed a single drop of sweat.

 

 

 

 

Of course there are plenty of outdoor Thai food places and most I saw were clean and comfortable.  Cool, almost chilly evenings, lend themselves nicely to outdoor dining.  In fact, I ate almost every meal either outdoors or in a restaurant without air conditioning and never once did I feel uncomfortable or shed a single drop of sweat.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/20th  24mm  ISO 1250

 

 

This is probably the best hotel in town.  I stayed here for the duration.  I had a nice modern 1 bedroom suite with a huge walk in glass shower, a very comfortable bed and comforter, television, frig, and all the normal amenities.  Internet is free.

 

 

This is probably the best hotel in town.  I stayed here for the duration.  I had a nice modern 1 bedroom suite with a huge walk in glass shower, a very comfortable bed and comforter, television, frig, and all the normal amenities.  Internet is free.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5  1/15th  24mm  ISO 3200

 

 

Here we are parked outside a burger joint I probably won’t visit again.  The people were very friendly but the food didn’t impress.  The tattoo parlor right in front of where my truck is parked seemed to be very popular.  Clean too!

 

 

Here we are parked outside a burger joint I probably won’t visit again.  The people were very friendly but the food didn’t impress.  The tattoo parlor right in front of where my truck is parked seemed to be very popular.  Clean too!

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/100th  30mm  ISO 100

 

 

There are many barking gecko’s everywhere you look and I’m sure they’re at least partly responsible for the mosquito free environment.

 

 

There are many barking gecko’s everywhere you look and I’m sure they’re at least partly responsible for the mosquito free environment.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/50th  50mm  ISO 640

 

 

This is your local police station.  They’re right in the middle of town and you’re free to park your vehicle there for as long as you like, including overnight.  During the late afternoon part of the parking lot turns into a soccer/football field and the locals have a grand time playing.

 

 

This is your local police station.  They’re right in the middle of town and you’re free to park your vehicle there for as long as you like, including overnight.  During the late afternoon part of the parking lot turns into a soccer/football field and the locals have a grand time playing.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5  1/40th  38mm  ISO 250

 

 

Here, I’m sitting inside an Italian restaurant owned and operated by Lisou’s which will take you completely by surprise the first time you taste their food.  Completely authentic.  Not the fat cheesy unhealthy pizza’s and pastas popularized in the Americas and the UK, but the almost paper thin crispy crusts and homemade pastas, breads, and sauces you don’t get from a can.

 

 

Here, I’m sitting inside an Italian restaurant owned and operated by Lisou’s which will take you completely by surprise the first time you taste their food.  Completely authentic.  Not the fat cheesy unhealthy pizza’s and pastas popularized in the Americas and the UK, but the almost paper thin crispy crusts and homemade pastas, breads, and sauces you don’t get from a can.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5.6  1/25th  30mm  ISO 1000

 

 

This is one of the owners.  I find making such captures in virtually no light satisfying.  Getting a nice clear focus at low shutter speeds and high ISO’s with directional light on the face is a challenge, but more than doable.

 

 

 

This is one of the owners.  I find making such captures in virtually no light satisfying.  Getting a nice clear focus at low shutter speeds and high ISO’s with directional light on the face is a challenge, but more than doable.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5.6  1/20th  48mm  ISO 3200

 

 

This is the third picture of this Italian restaurant, and the outside shot so you can be sure to find it.  Totally covered, yet open air, you’ll be comfortable here any time of the year.  On my last night here I treated my friend Eyal to dinner, as an inadequate way to say thank you for showing me around all week.  We had several antipasto dishes, breads, a large pizza, drinks, and the bill was under baht 500!

 

 

This is the third picture of this Italian restaurant, and the outside shot so you can be sure to find it.  Totally covered, yet open air, you’ll be comfortable here any time of the year.  On my last night here I treated my friend Eyal to dinner, as an inadequate way to say thank you for showing me around all week.  We had several antipasto dishes, breads, a large pizza, drinks, and the bill was under baht 500!

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5.6  1/20th  24mm  ISO 800

 

 

This is a very typical guest house and the remaining pictures show you this guesthouse in detail.  Its important to note that Pai isn’t a ‘farang’ based tourist town.  Instead, it’s a town visited by Thai tourists so you’ll find the establishments comfortable, clean, and staffed with friendly people who know what service is.  Much different from the farang weary establishments which don’t care about the condition, cleanliness, or standards of service.

 

 

This is a very typical guest house and the remaining pictures show you this guesthouse in detail.  Its important to note that Pai isn’t a ‘farang’ based tourist town.  Instead, it’s a town visited by Thai tourists so you’ll find the establishments comfortable, clean, and staffed with friendly people who know what service is.  Much different from the farang weary establishments which don’t care about the condition, cleanliness, or standards of service.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F5  1/50th  42mm  ISO 800

 

 

This is a very typical guest house and the remaining pictures show you this guesthouse in detail.  Its important to note that Pai isn’t a ‘farang’ based tourist town.  Instead, it’s a town visited by Thai tourists so you’ll find the establishments comfortable, clean, and staffed with friendly people who know what service is.  Much different from the farang weary establishments which don’t care about the condition, cleanliness, or standards of service.

 

 

This is a very typical guest house and the remaining pictures show you this guesthouse in detail.  Its important to note that Pai isn’t a ‘farang’ based tourist town.  Instead, it’s a town visited by Thai tourists so you’ll find the establishments comfortable, clean, and staffed with friendly people who know what service is.  Much different from the farang weary establishments which don’t care about the condition, cleanliness, or standards of service.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/60th  52mm  ISO 125

 

 

 

Inside you’ll find the rooms very clean, the beds firm and comfortable, and the familiar Thai style common in establishments that serve the locals.  I didn’t stay here, but the desk clerk was happy to open the rooms and show me several.  This room is normally baht 600 a night, or baht 3500 weekly.

 

 

Inside you’ll find the rooms very clean, the beds firm and comfortable, and the familiar Thai style common in establishments that serve the locals.  I didn’t stay here, but the desk clerk was happy to open the rooms and show me several.  This room is normally baht 600 a night, or baht 3500 weekly.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/50th  25mm  ISO 100

 

 

The grounds are open and beautiful.  I love the smell of fresh cut grass and the long walkways that wrap around the grounds.  You’ll notice that most of these guesthouses have been built in the last 4-6 years.  Pai wasn’t even on the map for Thai’s or tourists until about 5 years ago when a concerted effort went into promoting the region.  The town literally boomed since.

 

 

The grounds are open and beautiful.  I love the smell of fresh cut grass and the long walkways that wrap around the grounds.  You’ll notice that most of these guesthouses have been built in the last 4-6 years.  Pai wasn’t even on the map for Thai’s or tourists until about 5 years ago when a concerted effort went into promoting the region.  The town literally boomed since.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/80th  24mm  ISO 100

 

 

A wider view of the parking area shows you the easy parking, manicured grounds, and the duplex bungalows pictured above.  You wouldn’t believe how quiet it is while you’re standing there, or how cool and clean the air.  I never did use my A/C, I just cracked the screened windows and enjoyed the fresh air.

 

 

A wider view of the parking area shows you the easy parking, manicured grounds, and the duplex bungalows pictured above.  You wouldn’t believe how quiet it is while you’re standing there, or how cool and clean the air.  I never did use my A/C, I just cracked the screened windows and enjoyed the fresh air.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L USM  @F8  1/125th  24mm  ISO 100

 

 

There are literally hundreds of guest houses just like this one scattered throughout the town, outside of town in both directions, and while they’re mostly the same, many have a different theme.  Some offer traditional mud walled houses, some have big fishing ponds, others feature exercise areas.  You can walk from one end of town to the other in about ten minutes.  The one main street goes from end to end, and several cross streets take you in other directions which includes the Lisou and Chinese Villages which we’ll visit next week.  We’ll see you then.