Thursday, February 13, 2014


January 29 - Got into Chiang Mai two hours after scheduled arrival time, and after getting passed the initial ambush of people trying to sell us bus tickets for 300baht and taxi for 200baht, we found a tuktuk driver to take us to the bus station for 40baht each and booked a public bus up to Pai for 80baht each.  You really do get what you pay for – the bus was slow and extremely cramped.  I had my knees out in the isle because they didn’t even fit in the seat.  A fun ride full of 20 somethings all talking about their traveling experiences and plans.  Got to Pai and walked to our hostel, Darling Viewpoint, and quickly realized we did not want to stay there long.  The “dorm” was really just 12 matresses thrown on a floor together, so we changed our four night stay there to only two and decided to find a new place for the rest of our time in Pai.  Spent the night walking around the streets shopping and eating street food (as we’d do every night in Pai).

January 30 – Our first full day in Pai we met up with Gabe, Emilie’s friend from Michigan who we met on Koh Phangan.  He stayed at Spicy Pai, a hostel we would have stayed at had there been any beds available.  A group of people from that hostel were going around for the day on motorbikes so we tagged along, Sam with Gabe and I rode with James from England.
First we went to the Chinese Village, which to be honest was this really tacky tourist attraction that was extremely inauthentic, with a human ferris wheel and a concrete castle.  We drove up the hill a bit for some tea and a nice view.  Then we went to Mor Paeng Waterfall, which was really cool because some guy was playing the didgeridoo, another older man was juggling and people were jumping and sliding into the waterfall.  That pretty much sums up Pai.

Then we headed to Land Split where the man working there gives you free juice, taro roots and banana chips and you pay whatever you want as a donation when you leave.  They also had the biggest chicken I have ever seen, which also happened to be blind so it was pretty easy to pickup and get a picture with.

We all headed back to Spicy Pai, and I switched from riding with James to riding with Leo from Sweden.  Leo had a Honda Phantom and I was really excited to ride on it and we headed out to the Canyon to watch the sunset.  Leo and I got there about ten minutes before everyone else because he was driving so incredibly fast, and then I got off the bike on the right side – big mistake – and burnt the side of my calf on the exhaust pipe.  I guess they call it the Thailand Tattoo because it happens to so many people here.
Watched the sunset at the canyon, which is the amazing landscape of trails with extremely steep drops on either side of the path.  The group climbed up through the trails but I stayed behind because I was barefoot and my leg was really starting to hurt.  Did our typical Pai routine of shopping/eating and headed to bed.

January 31 – In the morning Gabe came to pick Sam up to go to the hotsprings while I stayed behind because I didn’t want to go in with my burn.  Went for a run instead, which in retrospect was a very poor idea because my wound got really dirty.  Came back, showered and headed to the pharmacy where I picked up some antibiotic cream for burns and some proper bandages.  Packed up all our stuff and Sam and I headed down the road a bit to Family Huts, where we got our own bungalow with a bathroom for 400baht ($12) a night.  We’d been paying 150baht each at Darling so we didn’t mind the extra 50baht for more comfort.  The location was also much closer to the main road where we spent most of our time.

Walked and shopped with Sam during the day.  Got ready for the Reggae on the River which was this concert a good walk out of town.  Had a lot of fun sitting in a little teepee talking with one of the bands that was playing that night.  After a great night of dancing and hanging out with new people, Leo said he would take us back to our place.  I think Leo and I were both a little disoriented in the dark and without seeing our typical landmarks, but I saw a ridge I thought I recognized as the one close to where we live, so he dropped us off there and we started walking.  Turns out we were 10 km out of Pai, so I flagged down a passing motorbike with two young guys on it and without speaking very much English, we somehow communicated that we needed to head back into town.  Thankfully, they agreed to take us into town and the four of us rode about 15 minutes until we saw something we actually recognized.  Made it back to our little bungalow and promptly fell asleep.  Pretty stressful/terrifying experience in the moment but the next day Sam and I had a nice laugh at the shenanigans we got ourselves into.

 February 1 – Woke up late and got breakfast with Sam along the main street.   Spent the day lounging at Fluid, the town swimming pool.  That's about the extent of our activity for that day.
February 2 – Got up early with Sam and walked over to Aya, the local motorbike rental shop, and picked up a Honda Icon.  I think it was around 120baht/day ($4/day), but I opted for the additional damage and theft insurances which brought the total to 200baht/day.  They gave me a two minute tutorial and sent me off on my way.
We headed to Spicy to meet up with the group and headed off to a set of hotsprings where the road was described as “treacherous”.  Already apprehensive about driving a difficult route my first day out, as we were pulling out of the gas station Gabe pulled out of the gas station too quickly and bailed when he saw a car coming straight at him.  So then the three of us were then racing to catch up with the rest of the group going about 80km down the freeway and then realized we got lost.  Somehow we all found each other and paid our 40baht to get in.
Drove for a few minutes with no problems until the paved road ended and the dirt road began.  I trailed the group down an incredibly steep, dusty road full of holes and I admittedly almost ate it at the beginning as the brake (left hand) and gas (right hand) are easily to confuse your first day.  Made it down and watched everyone enjoy the natural hotsprings while I minded my wound and had a lovely time sitting under the trees reading Thoreau.

Lunch across the street from the hotsprings and headed back to Spicy.  Checked out Coffee in Love, spent some time at Mor Paeng Waterfall, and enjoyed a rest at the Strawberry Farm.  On our drive home we stopped when we saw an elephant on the side of the road.  Fed him a few bananas and got our photos in.

February 3 – For our last day in Pai we spent most of the day walking around and soaking up all that is Pai.  Really no pictures do it justice – something about the vibe there is just amazing though.  I bought a dress (500baht/$15) from this lovely woman who we’d visited a few other times, as well as a brass and rose quartz bracelet (300baht/$9) from a street vendor.

Sam and I made it our mission to make it to the big Buddha for sunset, and on our way got a little lost and ended up driving up and down this incredible difficult road.  Somehow we both made it out okay and sprinted our way up to the top of this hill just in time to see the sun set.  Met Gabe for at a bar called Why Not? Because…why not?  Headed over to Ting Tong for our last drink in Pai and headed to bed.

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