Friday 1 January 2010

The Bridge Over The River Pai

Zee left for home well before midnight and so, in the final fifteen minutes before the arrival of 2010, I found myself standing on the bridge that crosses the Pai River, which was full of young Thais lighting the floating lanterns that are so popular here.

As the candle at the base of these paper structures heats the air inside the lantern, it fills out until it is finally ready to launch. And, with the approach of the New Year, absolutely hundreds filled the sky, like flickering orange stars surrounding the full moon. It was really rather magical.

And really rather dangerous, too, for every thatched-roof building in the valley (including my own). Not every lantern burns out as it rises higher and higher - some are caught on overhead cables, trees or a sudden change of wind direction. Someone told me yesterday that, as a result, a local pizza restaurant near the bridge burnt to the ground last year. This morning, I looked out of my window and saw the almost-intact remains of a lantern lying at the edge of the pond beside my hut, like a beached jellyfish. It simply never managed to soar like the others.

Tomorrow we return to Chiang Mai by minibus along a road with more than 700 twisting curves through the mountains. I'm really not looking forward to it, but by about 4.30pm I'll be in a hotel near the Night Bazaar and one step closer to reality and home. There's a tinge of sadness about this: for reasons I'll explain later, this is probably the last time I'll be abroad over Christmas and New Year.


Unknown said...

Hi Kevin,

Me and my girlfriend met you in the Pai Chan resort (we discussed the conspiracy theory on global warming). You left me your blogging address and so here I am. I will keep an eye on your blogs as I find the subjects you write about very interesting.

Keep up the good work and have a safe journey home. We are in Koh Lanta right now and travel to Koh Phi Phi in 2 days where we will probably stay untill the 18th.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

You're making me very nostalgic for my time in Thailand! In fact I was in Chiang Mai Night Market when some chaps waved my sisters and me over to a tv screen and we watched the twin towers come down. Funny how that hasn't been on many people's lists of the decade.

Unknown said...

I haven't really been checking those lists from down here, but it is indeed remarkable if they do not appear on most of them. How about the tsunami? Over here on Koh Phi Phi the damage is still visible. But I think tourism beats any natural disaster. People can be so distructive. The place is covered in beer cans and left-overs.

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