Ohhhh the Wonders of Pai
Pai-lights from our time in the hippy mountain pai-radise town.
We have spent 6? 7? 8 miraculous days here? The joys and wonders blend together. Throughout it all, save for maybe one hungover morning, we have eaten only raw food until 4pm. Meaning only fresh delicious fruits and vegetables, but really just fruit, until 4pm. And boy, did we ever find ourselves waiting at a restaurant at 3:55, fork in hand and order placed. But the raw thing has been amazing. We feel way more energized in the morning working our way through pineapples, papayas, melons, jackfruit, mangos, bananas, and not to mention smoothies galore, which can be purchased for 40 baht (about $1.30) here.
Besides engorging ourselves with gargantuan amounts of fruit, some of the wonders that beheld us are:
Zipping through glorious mountain countryside on a motorbike.
It was such a dream, hopping on the motorbike and being where we wanted to be within minutes, whether it was the fruit market, a restaurant, a hike, or a bar. We blurred the gender norms and made sure I learned to drive the scooter too, with Franklin’s hulk of masculinity straddling me. Franklin did do the more dangerous bits of road though, for example when we were riding up and down the steep hills to the hot springs, or the dirt roads to the waterfall. It is safer to have the heavier, stronger person in front for weight purposes (I just pulled that out of my butt but it does make sense and is probably true). After about 10 scooter driving experiences we agree that Franklin’s scooter skills are now at the level of Thai 12-year-old. Mine are still at the entry-level Thai 8-year-old. Someday soon hopefully we will be at the slightly more advanced One-Armed Thai Grandma level. But all in good time.
Ooooo what a treat! It seems like for our whole 7-month trip we have been arriving at a destination either right after the big local party/festival or leaving right before it begins. But in Pai, the stars finally aligned, and we came just in time for the legendary Jungle Party! This was a 350 baht entry fee along with two 50 baht taxi rides (there and back), so definitely more of a spendy night, but it was a worthwhile experience, if you like shaking your groove-thing to raucous electronic music and being around lots of high-energy, slightly zany, but still self-conscious 20-somethings made less self-conscious via copious amounts of alcohol and/or drugs. Ha, do I even like these experiences? I ask myself this question every time I attend something like this. And the answer is yes, but in extreme moderation. Like once every 3 months. It just feels so good to say screw it, I’m getting drunk and dancing like crazy until the psy-trance DJ comes on, at which point I’m going to stuff my face with noodles and then go home to bed.
Fire spinning show/ Open-Mic Night at Backpackers Paradise.
This was my first open mic night performing my ukulele songs in front of a live audience! It was so special! It was funny to go up on stage with my ukulele and see the face of the moderator… “is it….an electric ukulele by chance?...” of course not! We set up a special mic for the uke but I still think only about the first 2 rows of people were able to hear it. And for the first two songs I wasn’t singing close enough to the microphone. So it wasn’t a seamless debut, but I got up there, gave it my best, carried on through forgotten lyrics, and made it through. Performed “King Without A Crown” which was awesome and I think I only mumbled through 1 line. Then I performed The Talking Heads This Must be the Place which in retrospect I was not ready to perform in front of a live audience. Then I performed my original, I’ve Come to Grow with You, which people really appreciated! Woot woot!
Giant Buddha Statue
Giant statue of Buddha - probably more impressive in the wet, non-smokey season. Best enjoyed any time of day that isn’t the hottest part of the day. Remember to bring your temple cover-ups! A friend from our hostel walked all the way there in the morning, and couldn’t go up to the actual statue because she was wearing short shorts, and the sarong rental office was closed!
Mayen Waterfall Hike
This was a glorious hike through lovely jungle. We didn’t make it the whole 2 hours to the waterfall, because A) we weren’t really motivated to see the tiny dry-season version of this typically beautiful waterfall and B) we had to get the scooter back by 3:30 since we didn’t want to have to pay for another day. During the hike Franklin spotted with his mindful eyes 5 snakes! We also enjoyed some time sitting on a rock (or in my case, sitting in the river) watching a miniature waterfall and eating our raw food snack of jackfruit.
Chilling at Wonderland Bar
At the beginning (and end!) of the hike sits an awesome bar called the Wonderland. Run by an English fellow with great taste in beer, it’s probably the only place in Thailand you can get a choice of 3 hand-selected Belgian beers served in their specific glasses, one of which is in the shape of a horn. This is the classiest bar I imagine you can find in the middle of the jungle. Add to this the great conversational skills of the owner, and it becomes a must-visit! (Beer is fermented and therefore raw...right??)
Delicious Dining Experiences
My shout-outs are as follows: Avocado veggie burgers at Karsa Long Thai Food, healthy vegan Thai food at Charlie and Lek’s, Taiwanese vegan food at Vegetarian Vegan Restaurant, and amazing late night avocado veggie burgers at Little Burn. The last is a morbid yet whimsical themed food cart that sets up right outside of the ——-. The owner plays upbeat American classics while whipping up amazing burgers.
Pai Night Market
Like every Thai town with a bustling tourist scene, this one has a bustling night market. And there are so many vegan delicacies at this one! Also very lovely handmade crafts. It can get a little crazy at times, but that’s just because it’s so awesome.
Sai Ngam Hot Spring
The name hot spring is a little misleading for this one. In reality it should be called luke-warm spring. Don’t know if that's due to the season or what. But it was still a very beautiful setting, and the fact that it is luke-warm means you can enjoy the pleasant water for a lot longer than if it were hot. It’s about a 30-minute ride from town, and it costs 100 per person to enter the national park that it’s located in and 20 baht per person to enter the spring. Bring a book and a hammock if you have one, and stay a while!
Landsplit Organic Farm
If we hadn’t been super chilled out and over-heated from the hot (ahem luke-warm) spring, we probably would have enjoyed this place a lot more. Run by incredibly friendly local farmers, they invite you to come see their land which was split in two from seismic activity as recently as 2008. They also provide organic treats grown right there on the farm, like home-made jam and banana chips. It’s all donation only. From here it’s a very short ride to the infamous bamboo bridge, which we skipped due to it being the hottest part of the day and our already zapped energy levels.
Just walk to the end of the long walking street and cross the very rickety bamboo bridge, and there is a giant swath of grass perfect for chilling. Great place for yoga, playing music, and watching the sunset. Beware of swimming here though, we noticed a very stinky water draining pipe emptying just upriver of this underneath the bridge.
This is such a fun place for exploring. The sandy elevated paths offer some entertaining climbing problems to solve, and the views of the mountains and forest around are exceptional, even in smokey season. This is the place to be for sunset, so if you are hoping to avoid the crowds of beer-laden 20-somethings, come at sunrise! And beware of falling off a cliff and meeting your imminent doom!
So have fun in Pai! It is seriously awesome. So awesome in fact, that we are actually returning tomorrow :D