20.09.2011 – 26.09.2011 Sunny 30 °C
Had no preconceptions of Pai as I hadn’t even heard of it before James told us about it. This was a good thing I suppose as knowing nothing means you have nothing to be disappointed about if it’s crap. After the four-hour journey through the mountains we reached our destination and set off looking for a guesthouse. We found a pukka place called Evergreen for 200bt a night (I don’t have to put the £ anymore do I?). We soon realised that this was one of those places that you could easily lose time in. And we did, a week of time. We didn’t really do a lot in the way of activities, but the chilled out atmosphere, cheap food, drinks and good quality accommodation was enough to make you stay. We did go out and get hammered twice on the Sangsom (the Thais call it whisky but really it’s rum) which was good fun, we met some good people, British, Dutch, Japanese, German, Australian and American. The usual banter ensued (don’t worry I told them all, we rule(d) the world).
Mountain Biking. B, James and I rented motorbikes and biked up to the summit of a mountain different to the one we rode over to get to Pai, on the advice of Dave, our Australian guesthouse owner. He told us that early morning all you can see is cloud just like you are looking out of an aeroplane window, and he was right. It was an amazing view. We rolled down the other side of the mountain on to the next town, Mae Hon Son which was great fun, negotiating the tight bends even though we were only on 100cc bikes. We were biking it back up the latter side of the mountain when it started to rain and were all in shorts and t-shirts. Smashing. James, cleverly brought an ugly rain mac with him to which he donned to look like crazy frogs brother, but at least it kept him dry. B stayed dry to a certain extent on the back of the bike as I was taking the brunt of the bad weather. We stopped for ten minutes waiting for it to ease, which duly, it obliged. But two minutes back on the bike it started hammering it down again, so we suffered the tipping rain until we got back to the summit. I ran over to the shelter of a coffee shack but I don’t know why as I was already drenched. I wrang my t-shirt out in front of James and B, convinced I was going to catch a cold but there wasn’t a lot I could do, except to try to get warm, eat disgusting Thai pot noodles, so spicy that they burn your face off. All’s fair in love and war though as both B and James got savaged by flying leech bugs, blood dripping down their legs from the bites, B was worst off with over thirty bites on her legs. The rain eased once more and we set off home. Once we got through the cloud, the sun came out to warm us up and I had never been so thankful. By the time we got back I was bone dry apart from the bottom of my t-shirt. Sweet.
After my experience of the biking up the mountain I discovered you can bike it all the way back to Chiang Mai and leave the bike there for a mere £12 with them transporting your backpacks for free. Bargain. After giving it a bit more serious thought we all came to the conclusion, why not? We armed ourselves with a 125cc big daddy each and set off. It was unbelievably brilliant. Up the mountain and then back down was real good fun as all the roads are in good condition and it was beaming sunshine. This gave me the confidence I needed for Chiang Mai city centre that was to come. Three hours later and a top speed of 105Kph we started to hit towns and traffic lights. It got busier and busier until we were smack bang in the middle of the Chiang Mai rush hour. As James didn’t want to lead (tart) it was up to me to dig out a path through the traffic. I just followed all the other Thais. When they stopped I stopped, when they went I went, easy. When in Rome and all that. Before we knew it we found the rental place to drop the bikes off. When we got off the bikes, I’ve never had a worst case of numb bum in all my life. It was numb after two hours and I lost feeling after three but it reminded me it was still attached when I got off at the rental shop with short sharp throbbing pains and an achy back. Fantastic.
Pai is an addictive place which you can easily lose a week in and I would certainly recommend biking it to and/or from Chiang Mai.