I survived the road of death that leads into Pai, quite simply the windiest road ever, which was attacked at full speed by the driver, who merely chuckled at our gasps and groans in the back.
My first impression of Pai were immediately that I knew I would love it, home to only a few streets, plenty of quirky shops selling tye dye, everything Rastafarian, dreamcatchers hung up everywhere, dreadlocks galore and a cafe called The Good Life, where I found my first English brew in Asia. I was sold, and visited here most days for a good cup of tea. It was a cool cafe, where you sat on wooden swings, surrounded by wheatgrass and other homegrown plants for the smoothies. There were plenty of other cafés and restaurants, which all had the same cool vibe and relaxed atmosphere, with street stalls selling a range of treats..even pigs in blankets! This relaxed atmosphere continued within our accommodation, Johnny Tina and I were in a private bungalow, which was super cheap but felt so luxury..we had a private bathroom, hammock balcony area, double beds and even a t.v and fridge..despite the last 2 not working at all it was still just nice to see them.
The best way to explore Pai is on motorbikes, speeding down the dusty paths surrounded by canyons and mountains was one of the best things I’ve ever done, even after biking for 40 minutes in the wrong direction it didn’t matter, just driving around was a sightseeing experience in itself. We went past elephant sanctuaries, cool cafés where we sat in egg shaped chairs looking over the mountains and drove up rocky dirt paths just so we could see the view from the top.
There was a good group of us together in Pai, we reunited with Sammy and met Juan the Ginger Swiss, I simply do not know how to describe this person, but his entire view on life and one liners are just hilarious. With several other people we biked to the natural hot springs, which were bloody hot. It hurt to get through the water and into the slightly cooler pool on the other side. In the hottest pool which was 80 degrees we brought a basket of eggs and boiled them in the water…as you do. It was pretty eggciting. (Sorry!)
Another bike trip brought a visit to the White Budda, which is understandably a giant white Budda sitting in the mountains, it was a small trek to get there but the view out over the canyon was worth it. The day finished with waterfalls, aimlessly biking around and having a few drinks at Sammy’s hostel, Spicey Pai, which is the coolest hostel iv seen so far; an open barn with bamboo beds all at completely different levels and heights, connected by bamboo ladders. Basically, a giant play area.
The nightlife in Pai was sweet, there were plenty of bars, with all but one closing at 23:30, I’m not sure if it was a curfew or just to keep the small town quiet, either way the Don’t Cry bar was the place to be. A reggae themed bar, where you sat on cushions around tiny tables, or on wooden benches round several raging bonfires or danced away on the dance floor.The night began quite chilled, Johnny Sammy and I lay on the cushions in TingTong bar, in a deserted garden area we drank and gazed up at the sky, making shapes in the clouds before heading to Don’t Cry bar for buckets and dancing, meeting a variety of people along way, including a person who spoke the biggest load of rubbish I think iv ever heard. I’m not sure if he was trying to be smooth or was just genuinely like this, but he began explaining my ‘vibe’ to me, saying he’s not judgemental but I need to open my vibe more in order to appreciate everything, not be judgemental and that I shouldn’t be materialistic…I’d never spoken to or met him before, and responded that he was being judgemental right now. He obviously loved himself and thought he was the ultimate peaced out traveller. It was a strange conversation which resulted in me simply walking away from him, his trilby, greasy slicked back hair and fake geek glasses. Douche.
My final day in Pai was a surprise, I had originally planned to head back to Chiang Mai for Songkram, the New Years festival with Tina, but after meeting a great group of people in Pai, which now included Johnny the Dutch, Sammy from Leeds, Juan the crazy Swiss, Katja a gorgeous Finnish Doctor, Roxanne a hilariously well-spoken English girl who is completely bonkers, and Andrew a funny English barman who lives in Tenerife..with this group I decided to go to Laos. I felt nervous about telling Tina I was going to Laos instead, but she was totally cool and reminded me that it was my trip, I can do whatever I want.
After spending my last night watching what was apparently a jazz band and being called noisy Poms by a miserable and very stoned Australian, Juan, who had disappeared without anyone noticing returned, and said he had booked us all onto the 2 day slow boat to Laos, we got the last 7 seats. So that was that, off to Laos in the morning then.