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Location 3: Pai, Thailand

THAILAND | Saturday, 9 April 2016 | Views [355]

Pai, Thailand-

Do you remember the game where you could drop a quarter into the circular base and it would spin around and around?  To put it lightly, that spinning motion would have been a vacation in comparison to the ride from Chiang Mai to Pai.  Pai is a smaller town, in northern Thailand, roughly 150 kilometers from Chiang Mai.  It took approximately 3 hrs by minivan (completely filled with backpackers) with the entire ride consisting of sharp curve, followed by sharp curve, followed by, once again, a sharp curve.  If you suffer even slightly from motion sickness, please do not go here.  We had a couple folks in our van with their hands permanently cupping their mouths, as to hold back the vomit.  We spoke with a few others and their rides consisted of plastic bags being filled with upchuck as well.  Not an easy place to get to, but definitely worth the trip.  I would consider Pai to be Thailand's very own little "hippie haven", but it also has historical and religious components as well.  The first thing that struck me were the number of tatted up/dreadlocks sporting individuals…the population there was very much reminiscent of south Austin, Texas.  I appreciated everyone there that I met because they really make no apologies for the vibe of Pai and I liked that they weren't trying to make it something it wasn't.  

The hostel we stayed at was awesome and the staff could not have been more friendly.  Over the front bar/reception desk sits a "shot" board, which tallies the number of shots taken by travelers rolled up to a total, which corresponds to their native country.  We opted to make a "Tex Mex" category and we may have made a few contributions throughout the 2 days we were there.  One house rule is you are allowed to remove tallies from other countries, but you still are required to take a shot to do so.  The front area had hammocks, bean bag chairs and a bunch of floor pillows, which tended nicely to striking up conversations with strangers.  Since we had been on the move so much since arriving in Thailand we really just took a couple days to relax and walk around a bit.  Pai had some really amazing street food vendors and the price point was always supportive of my budget.  The streets were flooded with restaurants, thai massage parlors and various tour centers.  I did cave and spend the $6 on a 60 minute Thai back massage, which was an experience to say the least.  You enter into an air-conditioned room with pads on the floor.  You are told to lie face down on the pad and then the little Thai masseuse contorts your limbs into some very questionable positions.  I made wincing faces the entire time, but by the end I did feel great.

We kept being advised that the best way to navigate around Pai was by motor scooter, but I was more than apprehensive.  I am finally at a point with my back recovery, where I am feeling like my old self and I was worried about taking a tumble.  I am glad we opted out of the motor bikes because every 5 steps you saw someone wrapped head to toe in bandages.   The streets surrounding the main city blocks were not super well-paved, so slight adjustments or quick glances away resulted in some serious battle wounds.  We spent one day at a place called "Fluid", which was a huge refreshing pool in the middle of the Thai mountains. It was nice to just relax and hang by some water, because there has not been a single day where the temperature and humidity have not been extremely high. The place had a really cool vibe and by midday it was totally packed.  The venue had some badass potato wedges.  

Our last evening in Pai the hostel cooked up a huge barbecue and the food was really delicious.  The thing that is so great about this part of the world is that there are markets everywhere, with really fresh food (not always to my sanitation standards), so you can walk through the different food stalls and get inspired. The staff made roasted potatoes, grilled chicken wings, fried rice, pork with red onions, and some fresh salads.  It was all wonderful, plus only 100 baht ($3.50 - all you can eat…or till it runs out-which it did).  All the staff, their friends, plus all of us staying in the hostel intermingled for the rest of the night.  The whole evening was great and we only suffered a 20 minute power outage.  I met some great people with some awesome advice for the coming months.  Even though our time in Pai was short, I think it really set a precedent for me on what kinds of relationships/friendships can be made while traveling.  Many of the individuals we met have been around the world and back just so they can be with the people they met in Pai years before.  I am excited to see what comes next or if I will cross paths with these people again.

Next up, southern Thailand.  Our first stop- Krabi!

Neill

See photos here.

Tags: jungle, pai, thailand

 

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