We are in Pai 🙂 We made a last minute decision to pack up our things in Chiang Mai and head up into the mountains in the north of Thailand to a little town called Pai. Pai is a small, rural mountain town with an interesting mix of Thais, short-term Thai and farang (non-asian foreigners) tourists, and long-term expatriate foreigners.
Pai is an artsy town and every where you walk you are surrounded by funky Cafe’s, beautiful music and art. Surrounding Pai are rivers, waterfalls and rice paddies. It is very chilled and laid back and we are loving it.
Cafe’s in Pai
Streets of Pai
So many cute cafe’s in Pai, its hard to choose one 🙂
We started our Pai adventure by going to visit a little village about an hour and a half’s motorbike ride away. I had read up a lot about the Lisu people who live in this village. The Lisu people are a semi nomadic indigenous tribe who originally lived in Tibet. Over the past three hundred years they have migrated down through China, Burma, and Laos. About 80 years ago they began to settle in the mountains of North Thailand along the border of Burma (Myanmar). We wanted to learn more about the Lisu people and decided to stay in a homestay run by a Lisu woman Susanan.
Susanan welcomed us into her home and got us settled in her beautiful guest room which is on the second floor. We had our own private balcony and a lovely room. She lives in her home with her two sons, their wives and has two grandsons who are so cute.
Susanan and her grandson
Susanan’s oldest grandson playing with his animals
Susanan’s home, we stayed on the second floor and that was our balcony.
There are a lot of activities to do in the village and one of them is learning to weave. When I expressed interest in this Susanan called over her neighbour who brought her loom and began to teach me how to weave. She first knocked a few pieces of wood into the ground and began to make a loop with the cotton around the peices of wood to get the cotton ready to weave.
Knocking in the pieces of wood
Asumat (my teacher), me and Susanan’s grandson getting the cotton ready to weave
Asumat, my teacher
This process took around an hour
She then took the cotton off of this and set up her hand loom so that we could begin the weaving process.
This hand loom could be set up anywhere which is incredible. Once she started the weaving and showed me how it was done I took over. At first it feels quite comfortable but soon my back ached and I couldn’t believe how much I still had to do after an hour of sitting and weaving.
Setting up to start the weaving
I wove late into the night, it took a couple of hours and I had to stop as my back was aching by the end of it.
Weaving at night proved even more difficult as I couldn’t see very well.
I decided to finish the rest of my weave off in the morning after breakfast. I am so proud of the strip I wove:) I have always had a massive respect for hand weaving and the woman who do it but I have a whole new respect now and can’t believe the work and time that goes into it.
My hand woven strip. I love the colours and pattern 🙂
We had such an amazing time staying with Susanan and her family. I loved learning to weave and learning more about the Lisu people. One of the highlights was the incredible food we ate while there. We ate a traditional Lisu meal for dinner which was so delicious and healthy. Susanan explained that everything we were eating was farmed by her or her neighbours. It tasted so fresh and very different from any food I’ve had in Asia.
Typical Lisu meal
I was really hoping we would find some traditional textiles or clothing while we were in the Lisu village but all I found were bags designed and made for tourists. Pai, like the rest of Thailand is accommodating for the huge tourist industry and it even filters into these little villages surrounding Pai.
Susanan explained that many years ago the Lisu people would weave all of their clothing and textiles but now it is easier to buy already made material and make clothes with this. She also told us that she only really makes bags and pants for tourists which she sends to Pai to sell. It is fascinating to see how textiles and clothing are changing rapidly because of a high demand for specific ‘iconic’ touristy things.
We are still on a hunt to find beautiful handmade clothing, cloth, jewellery and textiles in Thailand. We are going to the Pai night market tonight and hoping to make some contacts and connections there. For now we taking in the beautiful scenery and loving our little cottage in the rice paddies.
The beautiful view from our cottage
We hope you enjoyed the post and can’t wait to fill you in on more of our adventures in Pai.