With 4 days left before I needed to be in Bangkok for a meeting with my new school, Robbie and I were at a bit of a loss as to what to do. Should we stay in Chiang Mai, head back and have a few to explore Bangkok or travel north to Pai…decisions decisions! It’s hot season in Thailand at the moment so staying in the cool north was very tempting. We’d both heard a lot about Pai from various sources and decided it sounded too interesting to miss. We booked a bus for the following morning and headed out to see Chiang Mai at night. It’s such a beautiful city, with the old city wall and such brightly lit Tuk Tuks driving around. Using the marvels of modern technology (my iPhone) we headed to the night bazaar (via 4 7/11’s…yup! 4!) According to a few websites this market is the cheapest in Thailand so Robbie was looking forward to getting some good deals on pressies for people back home. Therefore not impressed when things turned out to be over double the price of Bangkok! However we still managed some good haggling and enjoyed the walk around. Night markets are such a bustle of light and noise with stall holders ready to pounce on you to make a sale. The slightest display of interest in an item and they will begin the bargaining process. Some people don’t like it but if you approach it with the right mindset it’s really fun 🙂 I showed a huge deal of restraint in resisting buying some more elephant paintings (I already have one from this trip despite having nowhere to live yet!) but got a few gifts to send back at some point. At around 11pm it seemed like a good idea to visit a spa…only in Thailand can you get a pedicure (for me) and massage (Mr Young) at almost midnight. The last massage Robbie had in Thailand there was a special offer at the end so I was intrigued to see what happened this time! Maybe it was a female presence, or maybe it was just a legitimate spa because the offer was not repeated! Haha!! One slurpee later and it was time to head back and get some sleep before the early bus to Pai.
Now that was an experience!!!
The road to Pai is meant to be one of the bendiest in Thailand, so much so that when the locals ride it on their mopeds they can get a certificate from the police! I woke up so sleepy too so only wanted to get my head down, nigh on impossible when twisting from left to right up and down hills every few seconds. There was a guy called Charlie on the bus who was headed to the same hotel so that was fun.
All in all the journey took around 3 and a half hours dropping us off in this little boho town with a welcoming committee! People were so friendly from the moment the bus doors opened, offering advice on places to eat and visit while in Pai.
If ever you’re in Pai I sincerely recommend staying in Darling View Point. It’s a little hostel up on the hill run by Peter and his wife Darling. The second the 3 of us arrived everyone was just so friendly, a pool party was arranged for later that evening and we were all invited out for dinner beforehand, it was reminiscent of Bali times! Within an hour Robbie, Charlie and I, along with an Australian called Mike were off tubing. Peter drove us up the river to a place he had never dropped people off before and full of reassurances (not!) abandoned us there! The river was SO warm, honestly like a bath, and it was so relaxing to gently float along admiring the view. Definitely had worse introductions to new places!
About half way along we bumped into a group of kids splashing around in the water. They swam alongside us pulling and pushing our tubes along. At one point I jumped out and let the water babies at the tube. Talk about acrobatics
Just round the corner from there the water got a bit choppy and then rocky and I managed to burst my rubber ring. Oops!!! Luckily we were not too far from the end and had a true gent at hand who swapped tubes with me. The hole was only little so you could plug it up and keep going. But the next time we hit the shallows there just wasnt enough air to continue so Robbie had to get out. The rest of us were so far ahead at this point we had no idea what had happened to him. A huge lightning storm started and we were just starting to worry when a familiar face came over the bridge. Phew! We managed to get back to the hotel just before the heavens opened completely…seems to be a bit of a habit!!
Everyone was heading into town at about 6 that evening for dinner but having not eaten since the previous day Robbie was too hungry to wait so we had something to eat at Darlings and headed out with the others for cocktails. Mohito buckets, Singha beers and drinking games by the hostel pool. It was fun! All the excitement caught up with me though so I headed to bed around midnight, was just so tired!!
The next morning the Darling crew headed down the hill, over the bamboo bridge (so unstable!) and into Pai town to get breakfast and rent mopeds so we could explore the local area. Imran had visited a waterfall that he was keen to share. The water had created a natural slide ending in a plunge pool…so.much.fun! Yet another of those situations where a bunch of kids were showing all the adults up by being totally fearless so… In we went!
It was colder than the river, refreshing you might say! The rocks however were so warm, I spent more than a while sunbathing there, for which my shoulders are still paying the price. I wish I’d got photos of people sliding, especially the mad guy who went down the next (far steeper) tier of the waterfall into knee deep water…mental! After a few hours hunger struck and we headed to Fluid, a lush public swimming pool which offered chunky chips and other western food. Seems odd I know but you miss it after a while. The 6 of us played a game of keep me up with a beach ball before going our separate ways, some >;ahem<; to get aloe to apply to rapidly reddening skin!!
As Robbie and I were headed back to Bangkok the next day we took some time to explore Pai town that evening, strolling down the walking streets. Pai reminds me of Glastonbury, imagine Glasto as a town…thats it! Random stalls, temporary bars and food places as well as people of all shapes and sizes strolling around. There were push bikes with baskets, dread locks and Burmese carvings. I could have walked round for hours. We stopped for some street food (noodle soup!) before heading to a bar offering live music, a guy on guitar and another on keyboard playing some absolute classics. It was just the place to chill out with a ginger tea (it was served in bamboo! Couldn’t resist!) or a beer and chat away the hours (visualise a cube…tell me where it is, what it’s made of and how big it is and I will tell you about yourself). After a while the rest of the crew showed up with a plan to head back to the hotel which turned into ‘just one more bar’, haha! It was such a good couple of days, the cooler mountain air meant you could do things during the day and at night sleep without a fan or air-con quite comfortably. Or even chill out in a hammock on the balcony (bug spray helps!)
After the elephants I thought the trip couldn’t get any better but Pai was the perfect icing on the cake. A really chilled out mountain town, there’s nothing much there really so no one knows why it has become so popular with tourists. But I’m really glad we took the time to visit!
Next Bangkok! But for now, sleep! Nos da readers xx