So I decided to go to Pai. I actually had no idea of what to expect. The lonely planet called it a party town and the hotel I stayed in said the surroundings were beautiful. So with a recommendation from my hotel I booked three nights in Pai at Baan Pai Village. 800 baht per night, that’s a lot for some people but well within my budget range. So off I went.
I got picked up at the hotel and on the way to the buss station we picked up a couple of other travelers. One of them was Tomas, my to be fellow companion for the time I spent in Pai. On the way to Pai we talked a lot, turns out he was finish and traveling alone, so we had a lot to talk about. We decided to hang around for some days, rent a pair of scooters and go around together in Pai.
The picture above is from a rest stop on the three hour journey from Chiang Mai to Pai with minivan. It was only 150 baht and actually more comfortable than I thought. But the only thing I heard about these minivans was that they were crazy uncomfortable, going really fast and that they were bumpy. Yeah sure they went a bit fast some times, amd yeah sure it was a bit bumpy occasionally. But as I have said in previous post about people complaining… the level of expectation has to be on par with where you are and what you are paying. Whaaaat do they expect on serpenty mountain roads with small minivans?
After three and a half hours we arrived. We did some recon and decided to meet later by the bamboo bridge. The bridge was the first thing that made me realize to where I had come. A small laid back town surrounded by fantastic and awe inspiring scenery. But the bridge felt so rickety the first time I went over it, it was a bit scary. And well across there were actually no roads, although there were roads shown on the map we had gotten. But that map… oh man what a disgrace of a map! Nothing was to scale and and many roads were omitted. But it served its purpose well enough I guess, only twice did we get lost :p. The bridge and the map gave us a hint of what kind of place this was. Laid back and easy going.
The hotel I was staying at was really nice. But I have to give out a friendly warning. If you dislike country music, maybe rethink your choice for a nice relaxing late dinner. Because at around 08 or 09 in the evening they put on the only country record they have accompanied by music videos and some times light dancing. It was wonderfully terrifying 😀 I heard the same songs every night.
But everything else was very nice. The room was a small bungalow amongst other bungalows and a well kept small garden. I had a small porch which we used a couple of times for a relaxing beer. And the location was in the center of town. Close to everything. The staff was very friendly and greeted me nicely every morning and talked to me as I were somone they knew. It felt genuine.
Every evening the town went from a quiet picturesque little town to a crowded one filled with different kinds of food and music. But it was very moody and Pai really has its own thing going on. It is a touristic hippie town mixed with more “modern” tourists and a good chunk of chinese tourists. And don’t forget the many cute street dogs, bandaged knees and elbows (because some people drive scooters drunk or late at night) and extremely expensive cars (for whatever reason) mixed in with this.
I ATE SO MUCH FOR BREAKFAST EVERY DAAAY BECAUSE I ALWAYS FORGOT THAT THEY MADE YOU AN OMELETTE SO WHEN THEY BROUGHT ME IT I WAS ALREADY STUFFED UP ON BREAD, NOODLES, MANGOJUICE AND FRUIT BUT I ATE IT ANYWAY TO BE POLITE AND BECAUSE EGGS ARE GOOD FOR YOU.
The first day me and Tomas did some recon with a beer on my porch, it was kind of confusing so we just decided to get scooters the next morning and go.
We did exactly that and it was actually very fun. I have no driver’s license, I have little to no experience with scooters and absolutely none with driving on the left side. But it was no problems. After a quick introduction (how to start and gas) I was ready. One minute later everything felt just fine. Although I didn’t use the blinkers until an hour or so later. But it was also kind of comforting to go with someone else. It would have been a bit scarier if I would be all alone.
During breakfast we talked to a girl, Pixie who was staying at the same place as Tomas. She had nothing really planned for her day so she came with us to our first stop. The sliding waterfalls, Nam Tok Mo Paeng.
We were there for quite some time just chilling and sliding down the slippery bedrock. At first we hesitated going in. But watching the local kids running around like they had been doing nothing else for their entire life gave us some confidence. But clumsy as we were we still needed their help the first time. They just did a small human chain and pulled us up. It was great 😀
On our way back to town we wanted to go to a lookout point but actually managed to pass it. We ended up on the highway and just aimed straight for town. After some food, walking around the daily night market and late night chatting we were done for the day.
BY THE WAY I DID NOT LEARN HOW TO REFILL MY INTERNET THING FOR MY CELLPHONE AFTER ASKING ONE MOBILE PHONE STORE AND THREE DIFFERENT 7/11s AND TOMAS COULDN’T FOR THE LIFE OF HIS FIND A PAIR OF SHORTS WITH POCKETS. SOMETIMES THAILAND IS CRAZY.
The third day we aimed for another waterfall, Nam Tok Pembok with a later goal of the Pai Canyon for the sunset. And in between those points we had not really decided upon anything.
We hoped on to our Scooters and went in a direction which seemed right. The way we took was right but we had to ask for directions before finding the right crossroad to turn at.
Driving around the surrounding areas of Pai with scooters was really great. It was a fantastic way to experience the sceneries while getting to another even more scenic location.
This waterfall was different and pretty cool, we could swim around, hide in small caves and climb up higher for a different pool and some nice views. The waterfall is carved into the rocks in a narrow small valley which you can walk up to until a certain point were it actually gets really deep. Because of the high cliffs the place was a bit humid with no sun shining through. But the setting was really cool.
On the way back we decided to try to get a bit “off road” and try to get to another lookout point. It wasn’t really off road but it was a much more challenging local road with potholes and no paving. So halfway through we decided to turn around and go to the canyon because we really wanted to have some time there before the sunset.
It was actually a very good call in a couple of ways, one of them was that we had time to stop by a fantastic fruit farm where they gave you fresh fruit, fresh lemonade and sweet wine. And it was totally free.
The canyon was great and there were many photo opportunities. I mostly used my “real” camera there and I don’t have a way of uploading them now :p
The canyon is like a bunch of sandy valleys turned outside in where you walk on the thin ridges. At one point you had to climb a bit and I felt uncomfortable doing that so I stayed behind and took a bunch of pictures instead 🙂 I was fine with that!
The following day we planned for a trek instead. The third waterfall around the town was the goal. Nam Tok Mae Yen. It was about 7km walk away from town. We actually didn’t really know what to expect other than that there were some river crossings and that the estimated time to get there was about three hours.
And luckily enough we acquired another party member, Matt from America. Which made a great addition to the team.
The trek was a nice one. Although a confusing one. There was little to no information regarding the type of trek it was. And along the way there was only information in thai. But we trotted on and kept our spirits high. It really felt like a jungle adventure because we did the trek by ourselves and we met no one on our way until the very end.
We guessed, with no help from the map that we were on the right track, or if we were not, we would at least end up SOMEWHERE. We were fine with that because that would also be cool! Maybe we would end up in a remote village with jacuzzis? We did see a sign every kilometer or so though. It was in thai but it at least pointed us in the right direction for this elusive somewhere we were going to.
Almost at the end, some three hours in to the trek we met a couple of guys saying that we only had about 20 minutes to go. It was just up a steep climb an there it would be! Our spirits (or mine at least) sky rocketed and we went faster. But reaching the top was a disappointment because the waterfall was still a bit further on and the river below was taunting us with its waterfall like sound.
A couple of minutes later though there it was. I its majestic glory with a naked ass greeting us. A guy was standing there and just looking. Later he lit a pipe and walked away. He knew what he was doing. Tomas did the same, not with the pipe but posing in front of the waterfall.
It was serene. Not that super amazing though but nonetheless very cool. You couldn’t swim there but you could get in close to the fall and feel the force of the water. The place was also swarming with flies eager to nibble your salt of your skin or clothes. Luckily they didn’t bite.
We hung around for about an hour eating some snacks and cooling down a bit in the water and then we moved on. We had to get out of the jungle before the sunset. At the waterfall there were two big bags of trash and if you brought one of them back to the starting point the guesthouse there would give you some food for your effort. I almost thought about doing that.. before I saw that they were insanely infested with ants. And ants really hate me. This has been the case all my life. So I wisely stayed away 😉
THRICE ON THIS TRIP ANTS HAVE ATTACKED ME AND NOT CARING ABOUT ANY OF MY FELLOW TRAVELERS STANDING JUST BESIDES ME. I GUESS ALL ANTS HAVE SOME KIND OF CONNECTION AND THEY ALL HAVE THE SAME GOAL OF KILLING ME. I DON’T KNOW WHAT I DID. BUT IT SURE PISSED THEM OFF. (HAH, YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?…PISSED… UNINTENTIONAL PUN!… BUT MAYBE ONLY SWEDISH PEOPLE WILL GET IT)
On the way back we met two nice Danish/Australian girls, they walked fast and we followed them. They made us sing and it was great! It started out with some easier songs in our local languages, which I by the way had a real problem with in the beginning, I almost can’t speak Swedish anymore and even less so singing! But I got warmer and started to sing some Disney songs. We all joined in with our respective languages and it was a blast.
And soon enogh we were back! We were back in no time because of our “marching” songs and our new Danish/Australian friends.
Thank you Rikke and Mille. Now our party was even stronger! Just like in an adventure game 😀
THESE GUYS MADE THE BEST AVOCADO BURGERS! I THINK I ATE THERE FOUR TIMES!
Later that evening we met again for some dinner, and chit chatting. I introduced everyone to Kao Soi, the northern Thai signature dish and mango sticky rice. I always feel a bit uneasy about giving food recommendations because I am such a NON-picky eater and so many people seem to be very picky. But this time it was a great success. Everyone loved both dishes. Wooohoo!
Later we got some beers at the best place for smelling the sewer fumes! It was all fine becaue we sat across my hotell and had some nice COUNTRY MUSIC to chillax to.
IT REMINDED US OF MINE AND TOMAS “ROMANTIC” EVENING IN MY HOTEL FACILITIES ON A CHILL OUTDOOR LYING CHAIR WITH A FANCY FRUIT SHAKE AND CHEEZY COUNTRY MUSIC. MANLY!!
At some point, I dont really remeber when, because we all moved very slowly and stopped everywere, our party grew even more! We had now acquired our sixth member, Simi! A great American addition!
We hung around all of the evening and met some more nice people. We also decided to go together to the hot springs the day after. And so it was to be! We rented scooters again and went on one of the more scenic roads in Pai. It was actually beautiful.
Well there it was no disappointment, we really didn’t know if hot springs would be a nice choice for a hot day. But it worked out very well and the 200bahts for entrance to the national park housing the springs were worth it. We even got some eggs to boil in the hotter springs! Those springs are about 80 degrees Celsius and the ones you can sit in are about 34-37 degrees Celsius.
Our party was a friendly and encouraging one. We all got along well and Matt even learned to drive a scooter much to the credit of the supporting nature of the party. It was cool to see and my nerdy brain associated this to as mentioned before, an adventure game. But it was even better because it was for real!!
Pai was great. I felt a bit sad to leave. Mostly because of the friends I had made. But also because there was more to see and do. But it is also a chill town to just spend time in going around with a scooter and seeing crazy sceneries. And it is a nice town even if you are not a party dude. I also appreciate the laid back and hassle free nature of the town. It is a small town and you will end up meeting someone you’ve met before!
Together with the party in Pai we had a lot to talk about, music, culture, language and much more. It was a nice gang to hang around with.
And man the mango and passion fruit shakes… ggrrerllllgll *drool*
I’m not looking forward to southern Thailand at all… which seems like the total opposite. A big hassle. We’ll see 😉