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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Part 9 - Pub-crawling around the World - Edible Jazz, Pai, Thailand

See - a little too dedicated to kitsch backpacker-ville-ness
I headed to Pai in March 2014 after many recommendations from friends. Although I can't say that Pai blew me away as it seemed to do others, it is a peaceful place to visit and seeing the canyon, waterfalls etc is a lovely way to spend a few days. It kind of takes itself a little seriously as a backpacker haunt, and the whole place appears to cater for this, which I found a little odd, but I did come across Edible Jazz and that made quite a bit of difference.

I wouldn't have found this place only a fellow traveller told me about it before I visited Pai. It's set off one of the night market walking streets so I wandered down after some street food and a delicious rotee.

The place itself is quite rustic, there is some seating and hammocks off to one side (lucky if you get those - I never saw them free!) but you can also sit at low tables, on cushions or mats on the floor. I ordered my vodka and coke and sat on a bench at a table, where I was joined by a friendly Malaysian girl. We had arrived just in time for the live music, which turned out to be a treat.

Pai seems to be visited by many musicians, which is never a bad thing, and people can pitch up for open mic night or some seem to get residencies in this place (and I'm sure others). That night a gentleman called Tik was playing, he started with a few acoustic numbers without vocals, and he was a pretty good guitarist. When he started to sing, I was pleasantly surprised, as for some reason I didn't think he could! He prefers a style like Bob Dylan, but his voice was more tuneful and I enjoyed his versions of Jackson Brown and Beatles numbers amongst others. I tired out quickly that first night after hiking in the canyon and the music was lulling me to sleep so I decided to return the following night a little later, to enjoy more of the music.

Tik was playing again, which was great, and this time I sat on the floor at one of the low tables, where I was joined by a purple cat (surreal things happen when you travel), he obviously was enjoying the tunes too.
See, a purple cat, no hallucinatory drugs required.

The only bum note on this night was being the subject of some smart remarks by a girl at the bar, not a member of staff. When I ordered my vodka, she suggested that I don't like to taste my drinks because I ordered it with coke and she had some comments on my hair too. "Who can afford to get highlights when they are travelling? Mustn't be spending it on the good things to see." I'm not sure why I was a target at that particular moment, but I sensed she saw me as some competition as she eagerly swooped on any unsuspecting male as they approached the bar and hungrily eyed up those who sat far away. It certainly takes all types. If you do happen to know a German girl with attitude who was passing through Pai in early March, do tell her I said hi.
Tik, doing what he does
Shortly afterwards, a quiet woman from behind the bar came out and pulled up a stool beside Tik. When she started to sing, I was taken aback. I have never heard a voice like this, except in recordings. She had that wonderful, rich tone like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. It was such a surprise but a wonderful one!

Later, I actually got to have a chat to Tik and spent the rest of the time with his sister and her boyfriend.  Tik regaled with some stories of playing around the world and invited me back for open mic night. I'm pretty sure he's gone now, but maybe I'll revisit Pai again for open mic night ;)

If you visit Pai, put this on your list. Chilled and Tuneful.

Ambience: 9/10 - The place has hammocks. It wins on this alone.
Price: 100bht vodka & mixer, 60bht beer (pretty reasonable)
Food: I didn't partake of the food, given that there was street food in abundance nearby but my friends did and it looked pretty good.
Location: Chaisongkram road, just off the night market street.
Toilets: Pretty rustic, and you have to leave the bar to the left to get to them, but clean and with toilet paper. Actual toilets, as opposed to squat toilets.
Overall: A lovely, unpretentious place to while away a few hours, strange, judgemental traveller types notwithstanding ;)