762 corners Chiang Mai to Pai
Another stunning day greats me, hot again at 7am, up to my coffee shop for breakfast, then back to hostel and Tane, Loes, Brenda and me get into our mine bus to Pai. 120km takes 3.5hrs and the mini bus driver tried to do it in record time, I’m sure, tyres squealing every 2nd or 3rd corner, didnt even slow down when Brenda started throwing up. Tane slept for the trip, how I will NEVER understand, Brenda, she was not well, Loes looked after her and Issac and me got talking to Ollie , the English guy next to me. Scenery was breathtaking as we ascended the mountain roads but the driver was going so fast I was even trying to hang on with my arse cheeks, with smoking brakes and vomiting backpackers we made it there alive…Through the window Pai look delightful, still semi rural in its charm, locals lounging on hand drawn cart, water buffalo pulling carts down the skinny streets and the ever persistent scooter but at a slower pace. As we were dropped off I asked Ollie and Hayley where they were staying… “nowhere yet” “well come with us there a few of us staying there”…. and that was that… 2 more to the group… So 7 of us pile into a pick up and head up to Darling View Point Bungalows… We all tumble out at the resort and are greated by a lovely older Thai woman yelling “Hello Darlings” “Welcome Darlings”, this was Anna our new host, we
Loes, Tane, Ollie and Hayley on the top deck
all got a huge hug and ushered into the reception area followed buy another hug or two. To say the bungalows were beautiful would be such an understatement, carved polish teak every where, buildings made completely from teak, and the view, breath taking…Anna or ‘Darling’ as were all to learn was shuffling people off to their rooms, then my turn, as we head to my bungalow Darling is telling me she has very special one for me. It was beautiful although basic, but I though some of the other rooms
the view of Pai from my bungalow
were nicer, why all the fuss over my room. I learned that night that 8yr ago a huge flood had come through Pai in the middle of the night, at this point Anna had another resort down on the river, it was all washed away, and her with it. She was rescued by a French Canadian who was staying at darling view1, he pulled her from the water mostly naked and half dead and helped her
survive. He stayed over the next few months and built Anna her first bungalow on her new property up on the hill, and the beginning of Darling View2, and this first bungalow is the one I’m in…. nice…. honored… We settled in and all went separate ways for the afternoon, I headed into town to look around, get a curry and hire a motorbike. Both accomplished i set off for a quick tour of the town and back to the hostel to find every one up on the top deck changs in hand… well looks like its chang time for me too… Beer, good friends and a mountain view to die for, travel doesn’t get much better. ‘Darling’ came up to say hi, out she walked with a plate of deep fried crickets for us…There where gasps and ohhss and Arrrs from most… I was game but not many were…
Deep Fried Crickets... YUM!
… I had three in the en they were good… It was decided that Tane, Loes, Bart and me were going scooter touring tomorrow and then once again it was out for dinner and drinks… Eating at night in Pai consists of strolling up and down walking street grazing on street food… cheap and delicious ( I have to say I became addicted to the banana spring rolls )… we end up at the Bamboo Hut for the night, enjoying ourselves until its time to walk the long way home…
At the Bamboo Hut, Pai
The morning is wet and cloudy as Bart rides in on his scooter, but we all decide to head off into the warm tropical rain(well its warm at 0kph), a day of waterfalls and hot springs in front of us, our first stop, the Pai canyon, Pai’s answer to the Grand Canyon I hear you ask…. No… but something quite bizarre and interesting, definitely worth the short hike up from the car park to the ‘earth crack’, an earth slip on private property. We parked and were ushered, by a non english speaking, big smiling Thai local, under a thatched shelter and plied with fresh fruit juice, pineapple, passion fruit, banana and baked potatoes
w/ peanuts and salt, all given with out the expectation of payment… with in minutes there was another Thai couple there as well and the 7 of us conversed in hand sign and nods…. all laughing together… magic. The earth crack wasn’t much but the experience was priceless, we all dropped a tip in the box and roared out the driveway on our 100cc scooters and off to the secret waterfall, that every knows about.
When I said it was raining before I meant , you know just rain, well now it started to RAIN! Brave as soldiers we road on to our destination, thankfully there was a shelter there
for us to crawl under… all soaked through our rain jackets to our underwear… as the rain eased off we headed up the trail to see the waterfall, a swim had been planned here but we weren’t really in the swimming mood at the moment. After a short walk through the forest we were rewarded with a waterfall cascading into a limestone cavern. Back down to the bikes and off to the hot springs, we had all been looking forward to this and couldn’t wait… 4 scooters pull up at the gate and pay, guard at the gate tells us this is not a swimming pool… ok… in we go, big sign saying ‘time limit in pools 15mins’, how hot is this place. After a short
walk through thinned forest we get to the pools which are tiered from hot at the bottom to oh my Buddha hot at the top. Boardies already on and the 4 of us tentatively enter the water…. Did i say hot…. WOW… spent some time in the bottom 2 pools then thought i would do the ‘man’ thing and try the top pool…. got in to my neck and my head swam like i was drunk…. ok i got out…back to the bottom, a few photos then time to leave and the rain starts, only a shower and we’re off to the hostel.
Luis, Tane and me head into town for dinner and bump into the rest of the group (which has now swelled to 12) as they are booking white water rafting for tomorrow.. we book on too and continue to graze the food stalls, tonight I discovered banana spring rolls… bloody genius matey! We head back to the resort to chill in the pool with a beer and some tunes… Night time view of Pai town from the pool very hard to take, but in the warm tropical evening we all put up with the torture…