1. THAI MASSAGES
3 of my first 16 hours in Pai were spent getting Thai massages.... and that 16 hours includes a night of sleep.
For $5 (including tip), you can't blame me. It is beyond relaxing - my masseuse had to clap her hands to wake me up at the end. Thai massages have a yoga element to them - there is a lot of stretching, bending, cracking, and twisting.
Even better, the massages typically finish with a strong cup of ginger tea and cookies, plus the freedom to relax and leave on your own time. It is very zen, and if we know one thing, it is that the way to my heart is through free cookies.
In the states I can't guarantee you can get true Thai massage for $5 per hour and a half, but I sure am going look once I return. If you are in Thailand, you have no excuse! I am (of course) having money issues, but as soon as my funds return, you best believe I'm getting another massage.
2. MANGO STICKY RICE
It is both a blessing and a curse that I didn't start eating mango sticky rice until two months into my trip. On one hand, I should have been devouring this stuff since day one, but on the other hand, my waistband is grateful.
Mango sticky rice is available throughout Southeast Asia, but it is traditionally a Thai dessert. It is basically coconut milk sticky rice with sliced mango on top. So simple, so delicious.
This dish speaks for itself, and is perfect for sharing because the rice fills you up very quickly. If you are in Southeast Asia, start eating. If you're not... I don't know what to tell you. Get cooking?
3. AWARENESS ABOUT RELIGIOUS TATTOOS
On my third day in Thailand I passed a massive, and I mean massive, billboard stating, "Buddha tattoos are illegal, tourists should buy them, and parlors shouldn't give them."
Moreover, tourists shouldn't buy Buddha heads, as the head is very sacred and should always be above people or photographs (hence the issues with tattoos on the body).
I know it is easier to be ignorant and breeze your way through Southeast Asia, not caring who you are offending, but truly, you decided to come here. It is your responsibility to educate yourself before buying illegal artifacts or getting offensive tattoos.... especially tattoos!
Every time I see someone in a crop top or bikini passing women in Niqab, I cringe. I know no one actually says anything out loud, but they are offended. Here are some articles on the tattoo controversy and tips to not be offensive when traveling in the region:
Thailand To Tattoo Tourists: Think Before You Ink
Why I have little sympathy for the Buddha tattoo tourist
Sri Lanka to deport British tourist over Buddha tattoo
7 Things That Are Surprisingly Offensive in Asia
SOUTHEAST ASIA: HOW TO TRAVEL RESPECTFULLY IN A BUDDHIST COUNTRY
11 Travel Tips for South East Asia that Will Keep You Safe, Respectful and Enjoying Every Minute
4. LAOTIAN MUSIC
From the islands of Si Phan Don, to the public buses that take locals and travelers up and down the country, the soundtrack of Laos is... Laotian Music! While the surrounding countries have hoped on an (albeit, dated) billboard hot 100 soundtrack, Laos stays true to itself.
... and what a gift. Laotian music is a treat, and very easy listening. The music is heightened by the accompanying videos - these visual masterpieces are what really steal the show. It would appear that everyone agrees - all buses and cars (yes, cars) have tv screens to play music videos.
They say a picture is worth a 1000 words. If that is the case, these videos speak infinitely. I'll let them take it from here...
Be sure to keep your eyes out (and ears open) to Laotian music when in Laos.
4 weeks ✓ ... I haven't failed yet!
Come back next week to see if I have made another list, or just another failed series! Entertaining either way!
Until then read some...