New Year's Eve we stayed in town, and enjoyed the countdown and wishing festivities like the true locals we are. The real celebration, however, was the following couple days, when we headed to the mountains for cold weather, hot springs and everything in between.
We packed up on a Friday afternoon, bought a tent and drove to Pai. We stopped for lunch and a lookout, but otherwise drove straight to our campsite, paying a couple of policemen to drive us up the mountain because Katelyn's car would never have been able to make the trek. And really it was just that, a trek. I've never been on a car ride so bumpy, and we were in the bed of the truck.
This beauty is Steph. She lives in Poland. She came to Thailand to visit a mutual friend, and stuck around with us to go to Pai. The girl is a true adventurer. In a future update on this blog I will post her GoPro footage from her Thailand vacation. It's incredible. A lot of the adventuring we did over the holidays was in part so she could see the beauty that is Thailand, but, who's complaining?
We had heard tell of some amazing Cherry Blossom trees blooming in the mountains near Pai, and the only evidence I got was a couple dark photographs that look reminiscent of something vaguely Cherry Blossom-ish. The wilderness, in it's stead, was breathtaking, and it was truly wonderful to get to witness a light-pollution-less night and a heart-stopping sunrise (without a camera).
When the light finally died, we started a pretty impressive fire for a few girls, and ate our "dinner," consisting of some bread, Fig Newtons, Milanos and other random things, all toasted on Rollaroasters, a pretty neat contraption invented by Katelyn's dad. Campfires are among my favorite things, and my clothes smelled like smoke for the rest of the weekend. Heavenly. We sang to the tune of an iPhone, made up songs about water buffalo, and learned from a man camping nearby that we were some of the first foreigners to ever camp there, if not the first. Good recommendations, then!
Pai (the town) is cute. That's the first word I'll use. It's also jam packed. The roads are small and there are shops and little booth type houses everywhere. It's colorful and kitschy and everything in between.
We drove through some beautiful yellow fields (don't worry, there are pictures) on the way to a hot spring between where we camped the night before and the little town, a place called Huai Nam Dang National Park. There were a number of pools, some cool, some scalding. While Katie, Steph and Katelyn went on an elephant adventure, Nuna and I stayed at the spring to relax.
This place is incredible. This country, these people. I've never seen such joy as I have in the faces of the Thai people. These kids and their families were having the time of their lives splashing and swimming and making fun of the farang taking photos in a hammock. My favorite part of this trip was the time I spent laying in that hammock, talking across to Nuna in her hammock about how she became a follower of Christ and practicing (and failing to speak correctly) Thai. That girl has got a heart like no other.
Still so amazed that I live in such a beautiful place. What an amazing creator God.
"As he was drawing near the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out." Luke 19.37-40