Recovering from a tough year in Papua New Guinea, I spent five days in north-western Thailand. Pai sits in the middle of a gentle valley in Mae Hong Son Province, beset by soft rolling hills, hay fields, rice paddies, and a slowly arcing river. Morning mists gave way to cloudless blue-sky days as the air warmed, which in turn surrendered to evenings dotted with fluffy clouds, the better to play in the rays of the lowering sun.
Celebrating the freedom of my little scooter, I found myself exploring the byways around the local villages as the light shifted. It was delightfully peaceful, with nothing to do but sit, read, write, and explore the offenseless countryside. Stopping alongside a farmer’s field one late afternoon, I fell in love with the way the slanting light fell before the hills and played in the smoke from a bonfire, and the way the warm beams lit off the dry grasses in hues of amber and gold. The air stirred slowly and was disturbed only by chirping birds and singing insects, and the sense of peace was tangible like an aroma. I’ve never really been much good at sitting and doing nothing, but I have to say that Pai was the one place I can look back to and say I truly rested there.