I reached Pai from Chiang Rai hitchhiking with Elena (a Russian girl I met in Chiang Mai‘s hostel) through the jungled landscapes of Northern Thailand, its rice fields and its smiling people curious about us.
Pai is situated in a valley between those mountains and has become a mandatory stop for backpackers. In fact, the town is full of them and there is always party there! But not hard party, quiet party, you know; a beer around a fire, some good music and a lot of good conversations So the ambient is quite relaxed and enjoyable.
I met there a lot of travelers from everywhere, also Spaniards (including Belén who is now with me for a while around Laos), but most of the time I was there with Isa, a photographer from Ibiza that I accidentally met in Chiang Mai.
Before she could arrive to Pai I rented a motorbike to move around and visit places (I recommend you to rent it in Aya, where you pay 140 bahts/day with an accident insurance just in case you destroy the motorbike + 100 bahts of deposit for each helmet and they accept a passport copy with a 1000 bahts deposit).
It was my first time in motorbike and naturally just after the first corner I came a cropper. Who was the genius that designed motorbikes with the break in the same hand as the pedal!? Instinct movement when breaking is to pull the handlebar, that is, step on the gas. The fall was dramatic but not very serious, just an wound in the arm (although I had to take out some small stones that were inside) and the shirt and trousers a bit damaged.
I fell down in front of a guesthouse and the woman managing it, who watched the accident, kindly cleaned and disinfected the wound. Let’s go, those who doesn’t stand up will never learn!
Aaron, a guy from USA with who I stayed the whole day, taught me the basics and step by step I gained confidence. In fact, the same day I already rode Isa pillion
During those days I could relax quite a lot and visit the places around Pai: some waterfalls, the Chinese Village (nowadays just tourist stuff but was built by Chinese refugees years ago), the Pai Canyon (actually it’s not a canyon river-formed, it was made due to diverse erosion for years), the WW2 Memorial Bridge (tourist stuff) and some hot springs (I could also see some elephants but I’ve already talked about that).
Most well-known hot springs are Pong Nam Lon, which cost 200 bahts per person (well, per farang), are muddy and full of people. So before paying so much we decided to explore around Pai and… got it! We found some hot springs for 20 bahts per person + 20 bahts per motorbike. They were almost empty (only a local guy and a couple of sourpuss Russians) and totally crystalline. They still didn’t have a real road, it was being built, so I guess they will cost as much as the other ones when it’s finished. Regarding the location… it’s better you ask me when you go there, I don’t want to convert one of the limited local places in a new touristy place
P.S.: I had to do it…
Mhor Phaeng Waterfall was rather a slider where I could recall a lot of moments with my family in Manzanares river (the one crossing Madrid)