The whole time we were in Thailand we kept hearing, “Pai is amazing.”, “You have to go to Pai.”, “Pai is my favorite place in Thailand.”.
Pai, Pai, Pai.
So we went to Pai.
Which is a cute little town located up in the mountains at the end of a, you guessed it, vomit inducing bus ride. This one was definitely a lot windier than the bus ride to Mae Hong Son, but Aspen & I have travel days down to a science. We fast and we sleep and we pray we don’t puke. We haven’t yet so it seems to be working!
Pai was very cute and very western, with yoga studios, cute cafes and all the western food one can eat it’s no wonder backpackers seek it out. By this point we’d been traveling for a few weeks so we had already decided that we would do two nights in a hostel and two in a hotel.
Pai was all about chilling out and being lazy.
That being said… One morning we went to the hardest yoga class of my life. I don’t yoga but it said it was gentle flow for all levels so I thought why not. Plus it was in this open air studio out of town which was so pretty. It was not gentle and it was not for all levels. Aspen does yoga all the time and even she was struggling. This lady kicked our butts. At some points I thought my arms and legs were going to give out. My favorite part, as always, was laying in corpse pose at the end.
We also ran into a friend from high school named Ryan. Ryan has actually been my travel advice guru since I studied abroad in Spain. When I travel through Europe she gave me ideas of places to go as well as when I traveled through Central America. So funny and random that we ran into her!
Pai also has their own version of “the Grand Canyon”. I put that in quotes because although they say that, it’s nothing like the Grand Canyon. It’s more like a weird rock path, that drops off on either side, and snakes across the landscape. It’s so fun to climb all over and we watched the sunset over the mountains and into Myanmar.
Aspen & I watched Ryan get a bamboo tattoo which was one of the weirdest experiences. Getting a tattoo via bamboo is interesting enough, but no one spoke English so most of the time we had no idea what was going on. At one point the guy, who we were assuming was the artist, left and then rolled up on a scooter 20 minutes later with her word drawn out. She got something in Thai and only Thai people will ever know what it really says😹.
After yoga, exploring the town, eating smoothie bowls and adventuring on the canyon we spent the next two days hanging out by the pool at our hotel. Our hotel that cost only $11 a night!
Pai was the place to run into travel buddies because we also ran into one of the girls from our girl gang in Bangkok, Maria. It was so fun to see her after weeks of traveling and catch up on what we had been up to. We went to this ramen house for dinner and ate the best ramen of our lives. It was raining off and on that night so this guy, Tino, sat at our table to get out of the rain. Maria and Tino both happen to be from Boston and are two of the very very few Americans we’ve met while traveling. I think we’ve met five… If that. Anyways, we all chatted while we waited for the rain to stop and ended up going to get massage together after. Pai must have some magic because it was also the best, and funniest massage I’ve had. Funniest because all of us couldn’t stop cracking up. To end the night we hung out at this bamboo bridge, under the full moon, and made a packed to all get smoothie bowls the next morning before Aspen & I headed out.
So, we meet Maria at the bamboo bridge at 10am and then realize that no one has any way to get ahold of Tino. We know that his bungalow is on the same side of the river as the bowl place so we decide to just start walking and hope we run into him. And the funny thing is that we do! We’re walking down this dirt road, the birds are chirping, cows are walking by, it’s already so hot, and I look up and see this guy laying in a hammock and reading. I joke that maybe it’s Tino so we start to loudly whisper his name. It was him!
Our gang was back together, we went to get smoothie bowls and lived happily ever after.
Until Aspen & I had to leave.
Of course when it was time to grab our stuff and head to the bus stop it was POURING DOWN RAIN. We show up completely soaked and confused at which bus is ours as there are two leaving at the same time. We find our driver, load our stuff and after getting a good look at the driver, a young dude, I turn to Aspen and say, “That guy looks like he is going to be a crazy driver. We’re screwed.”.
We now refer to that bus ride as “The Death Bus”. Aspen had her jacket over her head the whole time because she couldn’t watch the driving situation, which was terrifying to say the least. As I’ve said before, there are no rules when it comes to driving in SE Asia, so I’m sure you can imagine the kind of driving that went down on a windy country road.
But we made it safe and sound to Chiang Mai, our favorite city in Thailand, and where we would stay for one night before heading up to Chiang Rai to go trekking through the jungle.