After tearing ourselves away from the glorious life on Koh Tao, Nik and I made our way up the country to the green hills of northern Thailand. We spent close to a week in the busy-but-friendly city of Chiang Mai, where we met up with the Chiang Mai Hash House Harriers. H3 is a worldwide network of people who like to run and drink beer. I'm not gonna bother trying to explain, because I can't really. But it's a group of fun people, and everyone "chases the hare," running a marked route that has false trails and intersections at which you must find the correct path. And you drink beer. Fun people, running, beer. Yeah, that's a simple little nutshell. So we got to join in on 2 hashes while we were in Chiang Mai, both of them out of town in the beautiful region surrounding the city. Quite an enjoyable way to see that part of Thailand :)
Nik and me, stopping for a quick photo whilst chasing the hare through the hills around Chiang Mai.
After our stint in Chiang Mai, we voyaged further north into the hills to the wonderful, happy little town of Pai. Pai had been previously recommended to us by numerous friends and acquaintances along our journey, by travelers whose opinions we trusted. Sure enough, we found our kind of atmosphere in Pai! It's a small community tucked away in the hills, where the locals are smiley,friendly, helpful, and happy, and the travelers in the community are good travelers - they are travelists.
When you backpack from place to place, along a "Lonely Planet" trail, you really start distinguishing the different types of travelers. Some are tourists, some are vacationers/"I want to get drunk in a different part of the world with other westerners," and some are true travelers - what Nik and I refer to as "travelists." Traveling is what they do, it's who they are, and they are a good group of fun people! Pai is a place for travelists, it's a place where people go because other travelists told them about it. The people we met in Pai were wonderful, interesting, laid-back people who had so many great stories of places they've traveled and lived that my priority list just got about 7 years longer!
Sending a "hot air lantern" into the night sky with some of the amazing travelists we met in Pai.
One of our days in Pai, Nik and I rented motorbikes and went exploring through the hills and backroads of the area. Off we went on a beautiful sunny day, getting lost on little dirt roads through a world of rice paddies, banana trees, bamboo forests, limestone cliffs and caves, and tiny little hilltribe villages, where the kids playing in the streets would all stop what they were doing and watch us ride by, and smile and laugh in excitement when I'd wave and call out "Sawadee kah!" A chorus of joyous "Sawadee kahs!" would leave a big ear-to-ear smile on my face as the little crooked wooden bungalows would fade back out into more rice paddies and banana trees. It was truly a happy way to see the countryside!
What a remarkably beautiful country!
So our time in Pai was full of beautiful scenery, live music, (more) great people, (more) great food, and happy. We have now made our way to the gorgeous, hilly, land-locked country of Laos, where there will be many more great people and experiences to write about at a future date!
This pair of Argentinian travelists brought their music to Pai to share with everyone - a common thing in this wonderful town!