Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Pai

One word awesome! Pai is chilled out and the weather was lot cooler than the rest of Thailand so was a nice break from the sweaty mess that was Bangkok.

Pai is about 3 hours and 730 odd hair pin bends west of Chiang Mai. I think its only about 150km from Chiang Mai but as there are so many twists and turns in the road as you go up the mountain its takes nearly 3 and a half hours. The views as you make your way to Pai are awesome and got me very excited about what it was going to be like once I arrived there.

When we got there the place was as I imagined. It was kind of like a slightly more peaceful Koh Phangan/Had rin beach area with cool little bars and bamboo bungalows and tiny little guesthouses just without all the full moon shiz and hungover westerners. There were a huge amount of Thai people there so much so that it was almost a rarity to see another white person. This was firstly due to the fact Thais' love Pai and often go holidays up here. Also to make everything about 1000 times busier it was the King's birthday and therefore a long weekend so Thais from all over Thailand had descended upon Pai to celebrate the birthday of their King.

We had not booked anywhere before we got there which was an absolute error. Pai is busy enough at the best of times but when its the Kings birthday the place was fully booked and all that was left was the bungalows for 60 quid a night each, which not happening! I had a feeling we were in for some bother as when we stepped out of the bus firstly no one tired to flog us their accommodation and secondly there were loads of Thais pitching tents on any piece of available land they could find. ER OHH!

We traipsed around for nearly 2 hours looking for somewhere to stay and no one had space. I guess this is what Mary and Joseph felt like all those years ago, although none of us were experiencing labour pains. At one point I even thought we may have to get the bus back to Chaing Mai, which I was not happy about as this place looked awesome. We found this one place which as I expect was full but did have a tent pitched up in the hotel foyer which we could rent for 500 baht a night and if we stayed in the tent tonight there would be space the next day in one of his bungalows, the 3 of us would have to share a double bed but that didn't matter I just wanted somewhere to stay and sleep in Pai. So after a lot of walking around, disappointment and hassle we eventually moved into our tiny little tent in the hotel foyer in Pai, lovely.

That night was the night of the King's birthday so we were expecting a big one. We got a bottle of whiskey between us and had a few cheeky drinks in our room (tent) before heading out to see what was going on. We headed to the center of town and could not believe how busy it was, you could hardly move. The streets were full of little stalls and food vendors selling all sorts of crazy stuff. We didn't really know what was going on so just walked aimlessly around trying to get involved. After I while we realised we couldn't really work out what was going on and couldn't seem to find a decent bar or club anywhere to continue the rest of the night with. This was well frustrating and we reluctantly called an end to the night. But not before we all purchased matching lime green turtle neck fleece's and had a fruit smoothly before we returned to our room (tent).

The next day was an absolute right off thanks to once again or lack of forward planning and the King's birthday. Our plan was to explore Pai by motorbike, as firstly surprisingly the roads weren't very busy, Lonely Planet told us it was a good idea and we hadn't done it yet so fancied our own mini adventure. However all the bikes in all the bike rental shops were all booked out sooooo disappointed once again we headed for a fruit smoothly while we worked out what we were going to do.

We decided to make the most of the spare time we now had and plan the rest of our time in Thailand and how we were going to get from here to the south and then where we were going to go once we hit the south so we could arrive nicely in time for the Full Moon party on Christmas day. This was something I did not want to ruin with out lack of prior organisation. We got this sorted quickly with a few quick notes a skim read of Lonely Planet's islands and beaches guide and then a few quick trips to a travel agent to book our complex mix of buses, trains and places so we could get to the south in one none exhausted piece. (This however did not go anywhere near as smoothly as I hoped read HERE for the full story of "Tom and his Cowboy travel agency operation").

That night annoyingly we stumbled across about 20 awesome places we could have quite easily have gone to the night before and continued our lime green fleece based antics and partied on down with Thai's to celebrate the King's birthday. We had a few drinks and sat in front of a fire at a place called Ting Tongs with possible the worst group of humans I had ever met. One even said "Fuck the King" to this Thai guy that didn't have any drugs to sell him. What an absolute moron! definitely the worst half hour in Pai! Complete set of English idiots!

Our initial plan was only really 2 days in Pai but after the day before being a complete waste of time and the fact we would now being flying to the south meant we could afford an extra day enjoying what Pai had to offer. We had also learnt from yesterdays mistake and prebooked our motorbikes for our day of adventure the day before so rocked up to the rental office very smug as strolled straight in and grabbed out bikes for the day in front of the que of waiting people.

Our last day in Pai was described by Chris as the "Best Day Ever" haha. It was just fun hossing around on motorbikes exploring a bit of Pai for ourselves. First stop was Pai Canyon and then went off in search of hot springs and waterfalls. We drove around for hours covering a huge amount of ground and selfishly contributing to climate change guzzlingly through a lot of petrol. We tried tackling some of the 700 odd bends as we biked half way to Chiang Mai and then back to Pai and then stumbled across a lot of Elephants in fields and a nice little waterfall which we had all to ourselves.

All in all Pai was ace. Could definitely have spent more time here chilling out and sampling a lot more of the cool little bars the place had. Had some great food while we were there as well and just generally enjoyed being in a place quite a bit different from the rest of Thailand I had seen so far. Just had a totally different vibe about the place. However time is against us so we had to leave and start our epic journey down to the south to become beach bum backpackers once again. I Can not wait!















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