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Jamie's Global Adventures

Pai & Soppong - A White Water New Years

THAILAND | Saturday, 3 January 2009 | Views [2533]

After kayaking through the cave.

After kayaking through the cave.

It's been a very eventful week here in northern Thailand. After exploring Chiang Rai, we spent a night in Chiang Mai and then caught an early city bus to Pai. We'd heard that Pai had a laid back bohemian style and was great for rafting and exploring the mountainous national parks. What we found instead was a small river city absolutely overrun with Thai tourists. Apparently Pai was featured in two popular Thai-made romantic movies so it's seen a huge increase in tourism. Though the crowds made it hard to find a room, it was an interesting experience to be visiting amongst the Thai tourists.

We signed up for a two day white water rafting trip that took us along the Pai river to Mae Hong Son. It was a 60 km paddle, but the waters are very calm this time of year. The scenery was beautiful and we had the river to ourselves pretty much the entire time (except for the swimming monkeys and snakes). We were accompanied by a group of guys from France and Belgium, which made for some interesting conversations around the campfire. I love hearing how excited people are for our new president. .

From Mae Hong Son, we drove to Soppong where we planned to hitch a ride into the mountains for a couple nights stay at The Cave Lodge (http://www.cavelodge.com/). Unfortunately, we got into town a little too late and all of the taxi drivers had already started their New Years Eve celebrations. We tried our best to find another ride, but finally settled on staying a night in town. It proved to be a very uneventful NYE. Either their was a big party and us Farang's weren't invited or everyone in town was in bed by 11:00pm.

We got to Cave Lodge early the next morning. It's a very impressive place situated in a Shan village near Tham Lod cave. The owner, an Aussie and his Thai wife have been exploring the caves of the area for over 20 years so they were a wealth of knowledge. We did a two hour kayaking trip down the Kong River with their son which took us through Thom Lod and down some fun rapids (including a 10 foot dam!). I think white water kayaking might be my new passion when I get back to the States. At the end of the night, we watched half a million swifts return to Thom Lod. It was a breathtaking site seeing them swarm high above and then systematically dive bomb into the cave and clamp onto the ceiling for their nights rest.

Swifts returning to Tham Lod

We reluctantly left Cave Lodge early in the morning and hitch-hiked back to Pai in order to catch a bus to Chiang Mai. We wanted to have at least one days rest before starting our long trek south. Of course we couldn't sit still for too long, renting a motorbike to visit the amazing Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and the touristy Tiger Kingdom (yes I got to pet a 3 month old cub!). At least we managed to squeeze in a Thai massage. We're going to need it on tonight's 9 hour bus ride and then tomorrow's 8 hour bus/boat ride. Back to the beaches we go.

Tradition band at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Check out the new photo galleries - "Pai & Soppong" and "Chaing Mai - Part 2". Happy belated New Year to everyone!

Tags: cave lodge, chiang mai, hitch-hiking, kayaking, pai, rafting, soppong, swifts, tham lod, wat phra that doi suthep



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