Just got back from the best weekend I’ve had in Thailand so far! We had Friday off from school this week so a big group of teachers and I decided to make the trip up to the little mountain town of Pai. I’d heard from a number of people that Pai is a magical place and that once you get there, you never want to leave. I can now say that this is 100% true! If I did not have to be back for school on Monday I would have stuck around for much longer.
On Thursday afternoon we all boarded a van that took us up one of the scariest roads I have ever been on. The hilly drive to Pai takes about 2.5 hours and is chock full of hairpin turns on super skinny and steep roads. After a nerve-wracking drive we finally got to our hostel and were surprised to find that it was actually a bamboo hut with bunk beds built over a rice field. (I guess that’s what you get when you’re paying just over $5 a night hahaha). It felt like a tree house but was surprisingly very comfortable! Going to sleep hearing the water in the rice field trickle under our hut made it a very peaceful place to sleep as well.
On Friday morning we woke up and really got to see our surroundings for the first time. The views of the mountains were awe inspring. It felt wonderful to be out of the craziness of the Chiang Mai and unwind a bit. Although the climate is pretty much the exact opposite, the rolling green mountains reminded me a lot of Vermont. The whole town of Pai actually had a very hippie feel to it as well, full of yoga studios, vegetarian restaurants and cute coffee shops. It is pretty westernized but after three weeks in Thailand it was nice to have a little taste of home again!
We got a bit of a late start because the previous night ran pretty late but we decided to rent motorbikes to explore the town. It was terrifying at first because last time I rode a motorbike I got a pretty nasty burn from the exhaust pipe. However, my friend Kirsten was an awesome driver so I didn’t need to worry at all. Although they are not the safest, motorbikes really are the best way to get around most of Thailand. Thai people start riding motorbikes at very young ages, I’ve seen moms with newborn babies driving bikes with one hand. I also saw a boy driving one the other day and he didn’t look a day over twelve. Although scary, it really is a ton of fun and so exhilarating driving along the curvy roads and being so close to the landscape!
On our itinerary that day were two waterfalls and the Pai canyon. The first waterfall we went to was not very steep and its gradual slope was perfect for sliding down. There were also some really cool pools that we could swim in. The second waterfall was really high up and had a huge, deep pool that was perfect for hanging out in on such a hot day. The Pai canyon was equally stunning. I have no idea how it formed but it consists on a sandy rock wall that towers high above the trees. It looked like a really cool hike but after seeing how crumbly and steep it was we made the decision to just observe it from afar…
The next day we woke up and it was scorching hot so we went to an infinity pool at a circus themed hotel that overlooks the mountains. It was so nice to hang out in the pool, nap in the hammocks and jump on the trampoline. That night most of the other people we came up with decided to leave but my roommate Natalie and I were in love with Pai and wanted just one more night in this magical town! We went to a barbecue hosted by our hostel and had so much fun meeting other travelers from all over the world. There were even a few other teachers there and it was really fun hearing about their experiences so far. We all went out in town together and had a very funny night!
On Sunday, we reluctantly packed up our bags to head back home. The hilly drive was even more scary on the way back because the seat in front of me was missing a bolt so the guy in that seat was swaying all over the place with each turn. This van even came equipped with barf bags if that tells you anything about the ride…. It was SO worth it though. I have one more week of TESOL classes left in Chiang Mai and then on Friday I move down south to the beach town of Phang Nga where I will be teaching English to primary school students until March. Life is pretty good here in Thailand 🙂