Pai 2… and 3… and 4

Finally, I actually have some down time. I’ve decided to take my time in Phenom Penn slowly, cut down on the booze, and actually write something. I’ve been lack luster in my blogging performance. The heart hasn’t been in it. There’s a lot of beer in Asia and I usually sit down for one after my daily excursions. Then you meet someone from Europe who wants to talk about the upcoming election and feel the need to drink at least 12 more while you explain that it’s not your fault. I apologize.

Anyways, once the entire crew was established in Pai, we created our biker gang. ‘Pai’s Angels’ was particularly Caucasian, road mopeds with questionable confidence, and enjoyed mixed berry fruit smoothies. If you’re thinking, ‘Wow what a bunch of f’n bad asses’ you’d be absolutely correct. With only 2 crashes and 1 exhaust burn, we survived. It was a formidable crew, and we roamed the ‘Golden Triangle’ of north Thailand taking over the opium trade from rival Burmese cadres (kidding Nana). We actually just explored the countryside in search of waterfalls and hidden hot springs. The landscapes were breathtaking, but I’ll let the pictures do them justice.

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The first stop was the Pai canyon (the feature pic). This was an odd geographical feature. It was basically one ring of elevated rock with steep drops to either side. It did not remind of of the grand canyon, but more of one giant cliff that made a ring. The views overlooking the valley below and the mountains in the distance were beautiful. The terrain was absolutely not safe but like everything else here, no one really seemed to care. There was one patch where you walked along the ridge with about 2 ft on either side of you and 40 foot drops beside that. It was a little mental and I hate heights but the views were worth it. We hit the road again after that and eventually we made it to our first waterfall, Pam Bok (pictured below with 4 of us next to the falls), where I had my first incident…

I was feeling bold, brazen, young, free, other stupid emotions that helped me forget I’ve become woefully unathletic over the past 6 years. So I climbed to the ledge beside the falls, full of bravado, full of hubris, embracing my inner . I was going to be a real hero. So I went for the backflip, did not rotate, and kneed myself in the eye, only to fall into the water squarely on my face. The crowd of 30 was not impressed. I’m pretty sure I was concussed and ended up with a black eye for the next 7 days. Things were good.

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After leaving Pam Bok we road further up into the hills. I was quite woozy and had a pounding headache. It was about 90 and the sun was high in the sky. Things were not good for me. Yet we pressed onward to the bamboo bridge. The bridge is erected over a vast rice paddy. It’s more of an elevated bamboo sidewalk than a bridge. It spreads for a few hundred meters across the flooded green fields. The view is stunning, but I was a shell of my former self and needed my hammock asap. Luckily, I got my wish within a few hours, recovered my strength and made it to the bars.

The next day we took to the bikes once again. Clad in our leather chaps, muscle T’s, and chains we headed east. On the way to the Mor Paeng waterfall we stopped off at the ‘Piranha fishing pond.’ This man-made fishing hole includes distant cousins to the piranha, and taking a dip to cool off was not an option. When we made it to Mor Paeng, people were lounging on the rocks and enjoying the cool water. This particular waterfall is unique. It’s rocks are so smooth that they create a natural water-slide into the pool below. We enjoyed a few hours at this cool spot and then headed back to Pai canyon to try to catch the sunset. Didn’t make it in time. Someone didn’t account for the fact the sun would set behind the mountains long before the actual ‘sunset’ (spoiler; I was that someone). It was still a nice evening sky. After, we headed back for the night and once again hit the town. We enjoyed a local pizza joint as we were all craving some western cuisine. This is where I learned that some UK people ate their pizza with a fork and knife and leave the crust. I debated getting up and leaving them all forever.

All in all, Pai was the best place I’ve visited thus far. The atmosphere of the town, the beauty of it all was truly moving. If anyone is looking to retire, I’d recommend doing it there. You can get a beautiful home with 3 bedrooms and 2 bath for about $40k. Did some research there. I’m not saying I bought something, but I’m not sayin I didn’t…

Anyways, now it’s back to Chiang Mai once more before I fly to Siem Reap and begin my next journey into Cambodia!

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Pai 1

I’m pretty confident that there’s a 50% chance you die on your way there, but I would take those odds every time if it meant I got to spend another day in Pai. It is one of the coolest places in the world. It’s a paradise tucked up in the northern mountains of Thailand. A 3 hour mini bus ride took us up and over the mountains on roads most would deem unsuitable and speeds that seemed inappropriate. The driver also had a few empty beer cans under the passenger seat that I just prayed weren’t his.

I arrived alone around 8pm and my new friends weren’t joining me until the following afternoon. The town is quaint with small boutique shops and restaurants lining the streets. The night market was in full swing when I arrived and my new hostel was right off the main walking street. I had to navigate through the crowds and stalls until I arrived. Once I was settled in, I decided to head out to the market and see what the little town had to offer. After grabbing a skewer of chicken and veggies from one of the vendors I started navigating the streets. I must have looked exceptionally lost, because an Italian guy asked me if I’d just arrived. We chatted and he offered to show me around as he’d been living in Pai for 4 months. He explained that the vibes were very relaxed because everything was so affordable; even for the locals. Rent typically costs around 2000 baht per month (about 57$) and the local merchants typically have no problem making that from their  stalls.

After I’d walked the entire town (only took about 90min) I called it a night. The next day would be my first of the trip on a moped.