Tuesday, September 8, 2009

5th to 9th September - Pai and Chiang Mai

Wow, what an amazing place Pai is. It's a beautiful trip on the mini bus to Pai through winding mountain roads with visions of green all around you.

From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


I travelled with OC and Simon and we quickly befriended Matan (Israel), Gilad (Israel), Gilly (Israel) and John (Ireland) on the bus. We got to Pai in the early afternoon and set about finding somewhere to stay. OC had a tip so we went there and were pleasantly surprised. We stayed at a place called Golden Huts overlooking the River in Pai. A really relaxing place. It was a good choice.

We quickly established ourselves at a bar and had a couple of cheeky cocktails. Dinner followed and then we were given a tip to go to a live music bar called Be Bop... Just down the road... they said... easy to find.... they said... Well.... it wasn't just down the road nor was it easy to find for five people who had no sense of direction.

We walked through the town along the only main road in Pai and bumped into Shani, Ortal and Sigal who looked a little lost. Come to the bar with us... we suggested... little did they know if would be the biggest mistake they made all evening...

So, we set off on our search for Be Bop Bar... We followed the directions carefully... walk along this road and it's on your left... can't be too difficult right... Well.. 20 or so minutes into the walk the buildings stopped and fields began.. We were in the middle of nowhere. Karen decided she would ask one of the locals and picked on a middle aged guy on a moped. She then hopped on the back of his bike and set off into the distance... I asked a load of army guys who were passing in a van and they told us we had to walk 20 minutes in the other direction.. Ooops...

We had a decision to make.. with Karen gone on a joy ride with a middle aged thai guy we had to think about how to find her. Simon and OC went off in search of her while the rest of us trudged (and boy did we trudge) back in the direction of the bar... We couldn't see Be Bop anywhere so gave up and headed to Bamboo Bar and Don't Cry Bar... We walked for a good hour and when we got to Don't Cry, a beer was so needed... All in all it was a good night and we stumbled back to the Golden Huts (or Holden Guts as we were slurring it at that time) at about 4am.

The next day we planned to hire mopeds and take a trip to the waterfall. The other guys set off and John, Sigal, Shani, Ortal and I held on in Pai for a bit. We hired the mopeds and gave them a practice run.. I was a little like Bambi on ice on mine but Ortal jumped on the throttle and shot off uncontrolably. She crashed the bike and slid along the road. Ouch.. She put a brave face on it but we could tell she was shaken so we decided to abandon the moped idea and hung around Pai for the day. It was nice a relaxing so I had no problem doing that.

Sigal, John, Shani and I booked a trek for the next day up to the waterfalls... Little did we know what was in store for us.

We were told the trek went for 5 hours with a break for lunch and up an undulating hill to a viewing area. Trainers would be fine... we were told.

So, the next day, we set off for our trek.... oh my word... it was a nightmare. Basically, the waterfalls we went to see were as picturesque as a spit in the wind. The undulating hills were sheer climbs and sheer drops, the magnificent view was great on the way up but at the top was cloud, nothing more.... it rained which couldn't be helped but I had a minor row with the guide because he wasn't err... guiding.... he was walking off into the distance hitting bushes with his stick leaving the group to struggle to find their own way. The 5 hours walk turned into a 9 hour hike... It was dangerous.. We were walking along untrodden paths that were no more than 6 inches wide with a sheer drop the other side. I've never been so angry or concerned for my safety in my life.

From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


From Pai


Rule of thumb is, don't use Duande Guest House and Travel Company in Pai. They didn't care about our complaints and blamed us for getting upset... It was the worst trek i've ever done.

That night, John and I got a well earned steak and spare ribs... We settled a couple of beers and headed off out... I'll never forget that trek or how worried I was for my well being... Shocking.

The next day we headed back to Chiang Mai. I enjoyed Pai and could have stayed longer but time was against us. We walked around the night bizarre in Chiang Mai and got some dinner before finding a bar near our guest house. We caught up with Simon and OC and had a couple of drinks. I also witnessed and girl fight outside the bar involving two thai girls. They're only small but you wouldn't want to get in the middle of their scuffle... scary....

Today we took the bus to Chiang Khong ahead of our slow boat trip along the Mekong tomorrow in Laos... Can't wait.

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