Pai was different from any other stop we made in Thailand, the first reason being the weather. It was cool enough to wear jeans comfortably there at night. This was the first time we felt temperatures below the high 80’s in over a month. We were very pleased. It is a small town up in the mountains that hasn’t been entirely overrun with tourists yet… just hippies. J It was definitely hippy haven there. We checked into our hostel and immediately realized we were the only ones not in the Thailand staple – elephant pajama style hippy pants. We asked a girl there where some cool bars were around town and she said “well are you looking to like, do mushrooms or just smoke a little weed and drink some beer?” As I tried to wipe to shocked look off of my face from her response, I kindly let her know we really just wanted to grab a beer or two… Our desire to party on what would be considered a pretty tame level put us in the minority here, but the hippies were friendly of course. Our favorite food spot in Pai (along with many other travelers) was the Burger Queen. We ate here 3 times in our few days in town, each time with a stop at the market for some Heinz first of course. They make the most delicious burgers and homemade fries we have had in a LONG time. Just writing about it now makes me wish we could have one, or a five guys.
We decided to rent a moped as we had in nearly every other city in Thailand and get a little lost looking at the beautiful mountain scenery. There are a few waterfalls in the area so we headed to one that had natural rockslides down it. We went to another waterfall that had some great ledges for cliff jumping into a freezing cold pool of water (“Not actually that cold at all” –Rob). It was a lot of fun hanging by these waterfalls and swimming during the warm parts of the day. Another awesome place in Pai is the Pai Canyon. It’s a mazelike path not far from the main road that is unlike any other natural phenomenon we’ve seen before. The trail is maybe 3 to 5 feet wide at some points, with drop-offs of 100 feet or more in many instances. It was nerve wracking but at the same time exhilarating walking the trail and enjoying the views over the fields in all directions. A lot of pictures were taken, but it’s hard to convey with photos the dimensions of the landscape. It was a beautiful adrenaline rush, just don’t look down!
We met two new friends from San Diego and Chile on our second or third night in town who we palled around with for the remainder of our stay. We shared with them the secret of the BQ lounge (Burger Queen) and went back to one of the waterfalls with them. We had a lot of fun with both of you and can’t wait to hang out with you again! On our last day in Pai we decided to take a tubing trip down the most sketch river I’ve ever been down. You definitely don’t want any open cuts while going down this river. Although half of the journey was through reed bordered open field with the mountains in the distance, the first half was mostly through fields that seemed like active, future or abandoned construction sites, all of which were at the land clearing phase. We had a few beers like we would on the Chattahoochee, but the landscape put a damper on what would have been an otherwise really scenic journey. Each time we would point near an obstruction, be it a rock, a log or just a minor ripple, Ricardo our new Chilean friend would exclaim “oh Sheeit!” with a mild terror in his voice. And each time we would paddle lazily, or not at all and miss the looming disaster. That is until the last waterfall which proved larger than any other obstacle and seemingly unavoidable. Through this whitewater Ricardo and Rob came up sunglasses-less. It is also what likely flooded our drybag. From this waterfall we were granted the gift of a partially blacked out phone screen for the rest of the trip. Thanks a lot buddy!
All in all there wasn’t a TON to do in Pai but it is stunning. The weather is superb and it is a great stop for those in northern Thailand. Definitely allows you to slow down a bit and just enjoy some good ole’ mountain nature. We would definitely return to this area again.