Chiang Mai was fun. We stayed for four days. It is much better than Bangkok.
We travelled to Pai on the recommendation of fellow travellers, hearing only good things from people who we had reason to trust. We were not disappointed. Pai is a small town nestled in the northern hills of Thailand, very close to the borders of Burma and Laos.
The hills around Pai
The friendly welcoming people and the peaceful scenic surroundings draw travellers and musicians from around the world, creating a lively music scene. In the evening the main street is overtaken by vendors from the local hilltribes selling a rainbow of handmade goods, and live music floats in the air from up and down the street.
Nightly music from the local newspaper building
Jen was dazzled by the bright colors
During the day we rented motorbikes and zipped through the winding hills to visit some of the many caves. Rather than utilizing such restrictive items as maps, signs and paved roads, we blazed our own trail through the lush terrain. Our route led through green hills and sunny valleys, past groves of banana trees and rice fields, into tiny local villages and off the pavement to blast along tattered and muddy trails.
Just enjoying the sun and scenery
After a while it was clear that our choices had been reduced to turning back and retracing our steps or continuing foward in the hopes that the trail would dump us out on another road. Luckily fuel was not a concern since a few dollars in the tank will last the whole day, so we continued on. After many grin filled miles we did spill out onto pavement again and were able to find people to point down the right roads to get us back Pai.
Most nights found us at a bar where we had quickly made friends with groups of travellers, primarily from Spain and South America.
Friends from Spain
Like us, they had trickled in from the street to listen to a pair of Argentinians who were managing to travel around with guitars in tow.
Towards the end of the week the rain moved in and discouraged our efforts to return to the counrtyside for more motorbike fun. However while it was raining I discovered a fail proof recipe for happiness in Pai. First stuff a few hundred Baht into your pocket (a few dollars). Second, walk out of town into the rolling hills. Next, find any one of the open air spas tucked away in the trees and lay down. Close eyes and listen to the sound of the water trickling off the leaves of the banana trees while the gentle breeze carries the smell of rain to you. Enjoy the massage for the next hour. Repeat as needed.
Although it was tempting to stay on and enjoy more that Pai had to offer we packed up and left at the end of a week to head for Laos. At the time of writing we are travelling down the Mekong river in Laos, on our way to Luang Prabang. The next step is still unknown, I'm sure we'll figure out something good though.