Next up was a trip to the small town of Pai. The six of us squeezed onto a small minibus which weaved an wound it’s way through the lush green mountains. It was much more of a squeeze for Rob and Dan who are both over 6 foot, a height not well suited to Asian minibuses. We were dropped off on the main strip in the town, and walked past several small bars an restaurants on our way to our guesthouse. We crossed a rickety bamboo bridge to our guesthouse which was situated just on the other side of the river, away from all the noise.
Pai was a mixture of heaven and hell. It sits in the middle of some absolutely beautiful countryside, but the town itself is full of tourists, most of whom are wearing their gap-yah baggy elephant trousers, boasting about how much they drank last night.
We decided to rent mopeds one day and escape the town to explore the surrounding areas. A man who ran a nearby restaurant had recommended plenty of places to visit, from farmhouse cafés with ice cream and coffee, to the Pai Canyon. We spent the whole day driving around through small towns, stopping off at little waterfalls, the canyon and places to eat and drink. The strangest place we stopped at was called the ‘Land Crack’, which was quite literally a huge crack in a farmer’s land that he has turned into a bit of a tourist attraction. He had opened up a little cafe where he served food and drinks made from his produce, and then a short walk into his land we came to the huge crevice in the ground. It was actually really big, and would’ve been devastating to his farm if he hadn’t been so entrepreneurial and turned into a thing to see. It was quite odd, but definitely memorable.
Back in the town we enjoyed time at a local swimming pool, and it was such a treat to be able to cool down. We were in Pai for Matt’s birthday, so we spent the day swimming at the pool, Toby and I disappeared to buy a birthday cake (red velvet an Oreo – it looked really good but we ate it before any of us thought to take a photo), and to arrange his presents that we bought in Chiang Mai. So we swam and ate cake and then went to a wine bar for some food and a few glasses of wine. We all felt rather fancy, but then we sort of ruined that by finding somewhere that did cheap buy one get one free mojitos. So I suppose in the end we just joined all those slightly annoying people and became some of them ourselves (although without a pair of baggy elephant trousers in sight).
If Pai wasn’t so touristy, it would be absolutely lovely. However, as it stands it’s a fairly tatty town, with few locals and little Thai culture. It is surrounded by gorgeous scenery though, and it’s a good place to celebrate a birthday!