I don’t know how or why, but Pai is the hippest little town ever. How did this place, nestled way up high on the side of a mountain, come to have such a high concentration of cool people? Is it because you have to endure such a gut-wrenching ride to get there? (no actual throw-ups in our mini van on the way up….one casualty and two near-casualties on the way back, one of the latter two being me). Pai is like a way-cooler version of Grand Bend (for those from SW Ontario) or Mont-Royal St (for the Montrealers). Artisans of all kinds abound – musicians, painters, jewelry makers, graphic artists. The pace is as slow as a Mexican resort. Nobody in a hurry here; there’s no place to go. After changing to a newer, smarter bungalow for the remaining two nights (rustic is ok, but I draw the line at huge cockroaches and prehistoric-sized slugs in my room), we put the scooter to good use and went discovering the many waterfalls and a hot springs (and one awesome canyon!) in the surrounding area. The early evenings saw the main streets of the town come alive with night markets and live music. I even hippied-out and got a henna. Yup. I did it. Check out the photo. Time was like water there. It would have been easy to just….stay. Alas, we’ve got promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep. We fly to Phuket tomorrow, where unfortunately we’ve heard the rains are torrential right now. We’re island-hopping over to Phi Phi and then Railay, and we’ll try to connect with our friend Mael somewhere down there as well. I’ve also got to start checking in to where the best place is to hop across the border to Malaysia in order to get my Thailand visa extended for another 30 days. Or, we might just head to Cambodia. We’ll see. It’s starting to hit me now, thinking how winter is approaching back home…Halloween has passed (a complete non-event in Pai), the clcoks have gone back, London, Ont. had its first snow storm of the season. We are here in Chiang mai in 30+-degree heat, walking slowly from shady spot to shady spot, trying to keep cool. I’ve been on the road for almost 2 months already. The wine made from the grapes I stomped in Croatia must almost be ready? I have shipped one box of useless stuff back home; I’ve lost several items (not missing my North Face jacket yet, but definitely mising my Swiss Army knife); I’ve blown through several thousand dollars (many several); I’ve tried a long list of assorted hair products; I’ve bought too much clothing (mom..another box might be on the way soon). I continue to push my own boundaries; walking barefoot in muddy rivers, and eating pad thai made with eggs that have been sitting out in 30-degree heat all day (eggs + refrigeration just doesn’t seem to be an equation here, for whatever reason). I’ve loved every minute – even the low points; even through the sickness; even the crazy, dirty, confusing week in India. I’ve loved all the people I’ve met, and find the people of Thailand particularly charming. What I love most is that it’s not even close to being over.