Loving Pai, but in the interest of full disclosure, Yours Truly has had the unsettling sensation of being observed by a mysterious presence. Hair on the back of your neck kind of thing. In a few days, after having had the best khao soi known to man, I had a duh moment. High on a mountain overlooking Pai I couldn’t help but notice a massive white seated Buddha tucked into a sea of dark green jungle. It never failed to catch my eye. We decided to make a day of it. We would watch the sunset from the great white Buddha.
Guessing that there would be an inordinate number of stairs involved I wouldn’t have normally chosen to walk all the way to the mountain first but that’s what happened.
The walk through town was the usual exercise of dodging scooters and cars but soon we were tramping a dusty path on the edge of a well-used narrow asphalt road. Kind of the burbs of Pai.
We saw a large open air Muay Thai academy where mostly white women were showing no mercy while kicking the shit out of heavy hanging bags. We past a pool association, a weed club, where the “real party gets started” and more massage parlors than you can shake a stick at. Every step left its own cloud of dust.
The approach to the Buddha stairs was frankly intimidating. Overhanging trees hid the top of the stairs from view and I could swear it got steeper the higher you went.
I couldn’t understand why the stairs looked so unused. I use the go slow, don’t stop, head down, don’t say anything that you’ll regret later approach. As I began to flag, aching for breath, I looked ahead and sweet Jesus, the stairs we were climbing were not the actual Buddha stairs. These were just the stairs to the fancy Buddha stairs. We crossed a road and sat down, breaking a rule, I’m sure. I guess most everybody rides up to the top, leaving maintenance on the lower stairs to fend for themselves.
This began to hurt as we plodded our way up. Each step individually considered and dealt with.
Finally we summited but instead of a celebration, I had that sinking feeling. For instance where’s the White Buddha? I peeked around a little temple and to my horror, off in the distance, I could see the real staircase to the Buddha.
Things were close to mutinous but I was damn well going to see the sunset from the White Buddha. That’s just who you’re dealing with. Marce, being the loyal soldier, followed along. We were running out of time.
There were a lot of people watching from the base of the great White Buddha as the sun began to set.
Marce set her own pace and made it just in time.
On shaky legs we started down the mountain. The thing about going to see a sunset is you’re going to come back in the dark.