Our most recent trip was a 4-day, 3-night trip to the quaint little town of Pai in the far north of Thailand. On the advice of a random website, we travelled by mini-bus (about 4 hours from Chiang Mai) rather than mini-van (about 3 hours!) The reason the writer gave, which is probably quite true, is that the guys in the mini-vans drive too fast on the incredibly windy roads. (Thats wine-dy, not win-dy: there are more than 600 bends in the road and they even sell T-shirts to celebrate the fact!) So after a stop at the halfway mark, we arrived intact. Pai is a fantastic little town. It has a real hippy feel to it, very laid-back and friendly. And everything is unbelievably cheap, even by Thai standards. I think the reason may be that you don’t get all the mainstream tourists up here, it’s more the backpacker types who don’t have as much money to spend.
We discovered a brilliant location to stay. Arriving near dusk, we wandered to the end of the main walking street and crossed the Pai River on a cute, rickety bamboo bridge: fantastic, but simply wouldn’t be allowed in Australia! There we had the choice of several great looking, village-type hut arrangements. I think we took the best accommodation in the entire village! For $10 a night our hut had a queen sized bed (and a single), ensuite bathroom and verandah complete with hammock. Possibly our best value of the trip so far! No Wi-fi, but there was an internet cafe on the town-side of the bridge.
Full American breakfast in town was $3. We are talking bacon, eggs, toast, fruit shake, coffee and fruit here! And we enjoyed a two-course dinner at ’The Steakhouse’, complete with waiter dressed like a cowboy. Soup, fillet of fish, chicken or steak, hot bread roll, salad AND veg, for just under $4!! Washed down with a large bottle of Chang beer @ $2, outrageously marked up from the $1.50 supermarket price! The town is full of great little coffee shops, bookshops, clothes stores, craft shops and restaurants and the street food of course is even cheaper. No wonder people never leave!
We spent our third day in Pai doing a full-day yoga course at Mam’s Yoga. As a 66 year old Mam’s been doing yoga for over 40 years and is living proof of its benefits. She swears her full head of BLACK hair is her own, due to the benefits of standing on your head. And she contorts her body into all sorts of weird and wonderful positions: “Don’t try to be like me!” “As you can!” Firm but fair. A few tough moments, but our bodies survived the day.
After an enjoyable sojourn we tackled the bends in the road again. Back to Chiang Mai for a couple of days in the old town and then the overnight sleeper train to Bangkok (refer to previous blog!)