Sometimes we are just living in an interesting place. Sometimes we are pilgrims, looking for a sacred connection. And once in awhile, we are just tourists. Today is our tourist day.
We booked a one-day tour to hit the hot spots. First stop is the big white Buddha on the hill overlooking the town. To my surprise, there doesn’t seem to be any temple with it–it’s just a statue for tourists to visit.
The morning is cold, and the valley is filled with fog. Climbing the steps to the White Buddha takes us above the fog, where we can watch it dissipate during the short time we are there. Reminds me of living in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, or in Sausalito. (Yes, that is the gibbous moon setting over the western mountains!)
It’s about a one-hour drive on wildly-twisted mountain roads to the top of the ridge that separates Pai from the Mae Hong Son watershed. At the top is a famous view point. Here, girls from the local Lozu hilltribe hang out in their traditional costumes for photo ops with tourists. Esso has fun with them. There is even an epic-scale swing, here at the apparent top of the world, for children. Unfortunately, only one kid was on it, so we didn’t get to see what it could do with the four it was designed for!
The panoramic view above (at the top of the post) is toward Pai. Across the road is an even vaster view, over the Mae Hong Son valley and into the wilds of northern Myanmar.
We continue down the other side to reach the next major destination, the Lod Cave. Please read about that here.
On the way back, a stop at a local hot spring (nice enough, but nothing to write home about) before the final attraction, sunset at Pai Canyon.
Every tour in town wants to take people to see the famous sunset, so of course every tourist in town is there at the same time. Well, okay, not quite that bad. Nice views in all directions (hi, Esso!)…
and a great time to watch the shape of the landscape change in the shifting light.