I am lying under a leaf-hatch roof as I write this. Pins of light show through the bamboo walls and under the door there is a slice of jade green light calling to me.
I made the decision to rest today, but even in my hammock I still feel restless.
I lie listening to music as dusk descends on Pai, sending a surge of people over the bridge. Fairy lights begin to illuminate on the other side tempting me across, and fireflies flit over with their sparkly invitations.
I give in. It’s literally impossible to rest any longer and so I go to Follow Me with Jem. Night was temptation; even the food smells from the street were enough to bring you crawling outside. It doesn’t matter I’m on crutches, I’m desperate for company and music and I want to go out. The barbeques smoking at the entrance, and kebabs of pork and chili lie burning on the grill. Kebabs are on the house tonight.
It’s only just getting dark, looming into that strange transitional light that your eyes have trouble adjusting to, the shades shifting closer to all-consuming darkness. Ben and Gregoire are standing by the barbeque with margaritas in hand, so they have the look of elegant gentleman at a garden party. Guido is fire-eyed as usual, high off his tattoo. Tomorrow he’s travelling south to “Mushroom Mountain” where you party til the sun comes up, fueled on mushroom shakes. Claudio is limping because of his motorbike injury. He had an accident earlier in the canyon and lost both his shoes, but he doesn’t go into detail about exactly how he managed to do that…
We throw off our shoes, a tradition practiced across most of Southeast Asia before crossing any physical threshold, and we sit on the bamboo floors drinking.
Behind where we sit long grasses sway, and all around there are stars and fireflies moving. Relentless crushing of cocktails goes on behind the bar by a smiling Thai woman, and it fills the air with the smell of mint.
Enter a group of Thai Rastas… They have the slow-motion prowl of wolves. Underwater wolves. One of them looks like Jimi Hendrix, wearing a brown corduroy jacket, red trippy flares and scuffed cowboy boots. Out of everyone in the bar, it’s us they stride over to.
Jimi takes a seat on the floor next to us and produces an exotic bottle of whiskey from the innards of his coat and shares it between us. They don’t speak much English but Jimi says, “Yeah man” to everything, smiles. One of the guys passes out in a hammock the moment he arrives, and there is one with dreads down to his waist massaging.
One of the Australian guys we’re with goes up and begins tuning a guitar on stage. Cherry-colour lights and mermaid dresses make it look like an underwater disco and he sings a lonely song about home.
Tonight we are all solo travellers.
All happen to be in Pai at the same. You run out across the open fields with people you only just met, and in a second they become your best friends sharing the wild freedom.
Written by Eva