Pai is pronounced ‘By’ in Thai so you can now laugh at my terrible pun. I’ll give you a minute.
Okay well after a little while in Chiang Mai there was a lot of talk about visiting a quiet town called Pai which is about a 3 hour drive North West of Pai. A lot of people at the hostel I was staying at (SpicyThai) had already gone and come back with a glowing recommendation to make the trip. They had praised it as a great place to do nothing if you are so inclined as there is a very relaxed atmosphere. I had already made up my mind that I would love to do absolutely nothing for a couple of days.
Also recommended was to do the drive up on your own motorbike on route 1095 which winds up the mountains making for a very scenic and enjoyable ride as you twist and turn up the 762 corners. And no, that is not an exaggeration; that is a bike riders dream. But I had very limited experience on a bike and I don’t think I would trust myself to make the journey. Later I saw that I probably would have been fine in terms of the skill required, the real danger to me was some of the crazy minivan drivers shuttling people back and forth between Chiang Mai and Pai. They were going quite fast around so many blind corners with little regard for the lane markings. And so luckily my little spicy family that I was travelling with opted for the bus, only to have another one of those crazy drivers. But alas we made it to Paid safe and sound!
It was not the green and lush picturesque landscape I had imagined when I looked up pictures of Pai, but since it is the dry season there was quite a bit of haze from all the back-burning to prevent forest fires from getting out of control. They also start burning the dried up rice paddy fields for the start of the new crop year. But nonetheless the views of the sunset were still pretty decent, the the sun showing all different hues and shades of yellow through to red and pink.
Of course there are things to do like see the canyons and caves, visit the white buddha and the land crack or even check out a few of the local coffee shops. There is also a very visibly hippie vibe with lots of rastas walking around town and people offering to sell you weed. First things first you probably don’t need weed to feel relaxed in Pai and two; I have heard stories of the local police cracking down on this sort of stuff as they are trying to shed the reputation of being the hippie capital of Thailand and have begun conducting sting operations – it’s just not worth it.
While the rest of my friends did go and see a few things like the aforementioned canyons I had spent most of my time at the pool which is about a 5 minute walk from our hostel (Spicy Pai – yes, owned and run by the same peeps as SpicyThai: lots of familiar faces around). Our beds were in a very modest wooden hut which was quite tasteful given our surroundings and despite a lack of creature comforts I felt quite at home in a more firm bed (I am starting to dislike really springy mattresses) and A/C was not necessary during the night as the temps drop from the mid 30s in the day to a pleasant 20 degrees at night.
So I it wasn’t all just the pool, we did cruise around on the bikes for a bit and had a look at the night walking market.
When not in the pool I wiled away the hours on the roof top of the hostel bar which conveniently has very comfy hammocks to just sit and watch the sunset with a few beers/ciggies/etc.
Also a surprising find was a guitar which provided lots of entertainment; we had a late night drunken karaoke sesh, 4 chords (Am, F, C, G) gave us plenty of songs to work with and yes we did sing Wonderwall. What I love about the Spicy hostels is just the great social atmosphere that brings everyone in, they organise daily activities for the guests which makes it very easy to get to know everybody.
Take for example the all you can eat BBQ dinner we had on our last night, not only was it fucking great food but made it so easy to make friends with everybody around the communal table. Had a great night that night: beer pong, buckets, drinking games, great music, after party. Thats about as much as I can remember (had a terrible hangover). Ciao for now!