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Pai and Chips

Burger Queen pai

with F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8

Sitting in the north of Thailand, a hellish three hour minivan-full-of-tourists ride away from Chiang Mai, is Pai.

It’s a cool little place.

I’ve always likened it to Yangshuo, a town in China I used to live in. It’s maybe not the most accurate way to go about describing it, but having spent a fair amount of time in both, that’s really how I feel.

Both small towns first made popular quite some years ago by Western hippies, they have slowly but surely been taken over by a more mainstream tourist clientele.

That’s not to say they aren’t worth visiting anymore, because they absolutely are. But many say the charm has faded, and the independent, rustic shops, cafes and guesthouses are now competing with the more opulent new wave who target the richer visitors.

On the plus side though, just look at those chips.

Pai scenery

Like Yangshuo’s countryside, the Pai scenery is glorious. They are very different from one another, but both glorious nonetheless.

One of the best ways to spend a couple of days in Pai is to get out of the town on a scooter and see what you can find in the surrounding areas.

There are a few hot springs, but pampering isn’t something I tend to do, so I quite literally headed for the hills.

Pai country thailand

Pai thailand

Pai Canyon

Big Buddha pai

Pretty much wherever you go in and around Pai, you’ll find something worth getting your camera out for.

The landscape vistas and Pai Canyon are natural sights, but nothing topped the big Buddha for me.

Sitting halfway up a hill, it’s not actually that far that you couldn’t walk there from the town, should you like walking.

I took a scooter, although there is still a flight of steps that needs to be climbed. Never let it be said that it isn’t worth it though.

Another slice of Pai

All things considered, Pai is a joy for three days or so, and I wouldn’t mind staying there for a more substantial amount of time at some point, if I find myself in the position where I can.

Not for two years as I did in Yangshuo, but a month or two would be nice.

These pictures are what I got in Pai with my F.Zuiko 38mm 1.8, from a trip where I split my time between this lens and the Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8.

Those pictures can be found by going here.


pai temple

broken buddhist statue

pai cafe flowers

Of all the sets of pictures on My Favourite Lens, this one perhaps has the least flow to it.

Those final four images are all pretty much isolated from one another, even though they were taken in the same place and over the same couple of days.

At the time I took them, I wasn’t thinking too much about telling a story on here, and I think that shows.

I suppose it also shows the diversity of what you can find in Pai though, while also being a reminder to think about what you’re shooting when you go somewhere as a whole body of work to offer your audience, and not merely a series of standalone shots.

About the hellish minivan journey too: next time*, I’m going by scooter.

*Update: I did.


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A small tourist town in northern Thailand, the Pai scenery is something no visiting backpacker or hippy should ever forget (drink and drugs depending). The surrounding countryside is as nice to photograph as it is to travel through, with the big Buddha and its nearby temple providing a nice distrction. The stretch of cafes lining the road into Pai have enough curios to linger around for a while too, and the chips at Burger Queen were among the best I've had in Thailand. Pai: if you have the chance to go, then go.


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