I thank my bungalow (and cooking school) owner with a bag of whole cardamom kernels carried from India. She is a bit confused by the purpose of the seeds and I artfully attempt to explain that one can consume them as tea. I also hand her a packet of mango pickle powder from India too, trusting her culinary skills will thus be expanded. She smiles and nods, her eyes twinkling with the same perky magenta eyeshadow. She is the fairy godmother of the Thai kitchen (soon to be of India as well.)
To the river I express gratitude to the water, to the mountains, I honor you too. Thank you Pai. You are sublime.
I hope to return one day.
The last supper in Pai includes a local dish of mashed red chilly dip served with elaborately cut cucumber and sticky rice (although traditionally served with pork crackling to additionally plunge in the sauce, I found one place that swapped the swine for tofu.) I requested it extra hot for the Thais have yet to recognize my able palate for spice and alas on the final eve I received my call, one that empowered my insides and allowed for my transformation into a fire breathing dragon. Divine.
Watch out Laos! Here I come!