Oct 09 2017

So our time in Pai has come to an end. As we make our way back to chang mai on a 4 hour drive carved into a monumental jungle backdrop sweeping our way through the famous "762 turns" and the only route to anywhere, such is the secluded nature of this little hippy jungle town. Pai pretty much is the end of the road for northern Thailand there's further locations north, but with Pai you set off from chang mai and have to come back to go anywhere else. There is no real other routes to anywhere. This clearly has had an effect on the place, when you've got bored of the jungle views, hot springs, national parks, waterfalls that are so slippery you can use as a slide (more on that expericnce later), what are you left with? Well it turns out quite a bit for such a small spot on the map. Odd little tourist spots that in reality would just be another place in any other destinations become tiny little mecca's for the stoned and tripping hippie crowds that have made their way from all over Thailand. And Pai certainly accommodates them, "the waking road" the main the vein of Pai carries people down a road jammed with street food stalls, hippie shops selling anything and everything tie died, motorbike rental shops...and most interestingly brownie stalls and smoothie stalls. Not all is as at seems however and lying under this chilled vibe are an easy access to shroom smoothies and supposedly..weed brownies. Neither are an area I have any interest in but it's enjoyable to watch peoole walk the streets with munchies, overwhelmed with array of food stalls.
Watching an American man, who insisted on bowing to me and kissing my tattoo of Jim Hendrix (it got weird when he used tongues) high as the views from the canyon stumble about the road trying to find his rented motorbike are the part of reason I chose not to  partake. In case you was wondering.. he did find it (we saw him again the next day hugged me and called me his hero) turns out he found it... 3 hours later.
It's when you escape the centre and head for the mountains that pai really shows it's true beauty. After failing on our first day to make it anywhere of significance on bikes. We met a group of fellow Yorkshire folk in a bar and headed out on more suitable vehicles the following day. After meeting a very hungover bunch of wonderful Yorkshire folk and one very funny Australian in the very ironically named "why not cafe." We headed to grab our scooters and a helmet which both where covered in scratches and holes, filling me full of optimism. I went for the more expensive 125cc motor which cost me an extra 90p to bring it to a grand total of £ would have been cheaper but I went for the excess cover to protect myself from a likely 3000 baht charge for damage. Something I put to good use about 30 seconds later after binning it into a lamppost.
After a little time I got used to the steering with a rider on the back and we was flying our way through stunning scenery a rowdy bunch cheering and beeping as we went. On the way to our first stop we met another couple from the night before and our convoy grew. We arrived at the foothill of our first stop, a waterfall with a beautiful view. Not just any waterfall a waterfall covered with algae that by its shape and slipperyness allowed you to slide over the edge and into the water at the bottom. We all watched nervously as two young thai boys repeatedly flew over the edge and scrambled back up the rock face again. I'd all but planted my arse on the edge to go when a Chinese guy went over the edge hanging to far to one side he slipped out of control and smashed into a rock that jutted out. It took another good 10 minites of watching the Thai lads go without failure before I'd psyched myself back up to do it again. I parked myself on the edge making sure I pushed myself far enough right, as to not make the mistake as the poor Chinese guy who was still laid out in pain at the bottom clutching at a rock. I slid with alarming speed and very little control and landed sideways in the water below. I cheered up the guys at the top for the rest to follow but nobody dare until my very brave travel partner followed me landing exactly as I had. Then came the real issue. Getting out the small pool and back up. All the rocks where covered in the same slippery surface and made it impossibly hard to lift yourself from the water. We decided to follow the Thai lads path which was a mistake as they apparently where not young men but indeed, mountain goats. Some 10 minutes later we was at the top but had to cross the water where the strongest part of stream met the edge of the waterfall. I went first..and it went very badly. I slipped on a rock under foot and went hurtling to the edge of the waterfall backwards underwater and heading to jagged rocks below. I somehow managed to wedge a foot against a rock to stop myself going over and wedged myself in place. The danger wasn't over there however. I couldn't move, the force of the water was slowly forcing me over the edge any time I tried to move. Eventually after several close calls I managed to heave myself onto a dry rock and safety. We gathered our stuff exhausted from certain death. The stuff including my shoe which I had earlier stepped in a massive muddy puddle to my shin and which was still dripping wet and headed out. After failed attempts at finding the hot springs nearly running over two chickens and a puppy we headed for "the grand canyon". It didn't have the scale of the actual grand canyon to really get away with using that name but it did have some stunning views over the jungle.
Everyone was exhausted but we wanted to see more. We left the group and headed over to the war memorial bridge. Built at the same time under similar conditions as the river kwaii it connected the roads for the materials to build the original bridge. The only really spectacular thing about is was the sense of danger you got crossing it. Made from wooden panels many of them either missing with huge human size drops to the raging river below, we quickly took some photos and got off it before a huge group descended onto it.
We finished the day at a strawberry field that had turned itself into tourist spot by selling strawberry things and having strawberry statutes everywhere it was rather odd. However the food was good and it provided shelter from another storm.
We finally got back to hotel, wet, sweaty and muddy and fell into the pool and then into bed. Both slightly bemused as to why we booked a beautiful luxury hotel to relax but barely stopped from a minute. However our time there has been blissfull in the those relaxing times and such a change from the hostel. But such is Pai the chaos started on the road in and continued all the way back to that same road back.


Oct 11 2017

Chiang Mai



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