We lasted exactly one day in Chiang Mai before we decided another adventure was necessary. This time, we decided to brave the long winding road to Pai.
I’m not over exaggerating when I say long and winding- 762 steep, narrow bends through the jungle to be exact. Thankfully our hostel kitted us out with motion sickness tablets for the ride, because god damn they were necessary. Miracle tablets they were, not only did they stop the motion sickness, they also managed what no other medicine has ever managed to do: knock us out.
It’s no wonder so many people take a little break from Chiang Mai in Pai. The silence was palpable after the constant buzz of Tuktuks we’ve grown accustomed to. A relaxed air hangs around the place: nobody seems in a hurry, nobody seems stressed, nobody has a desperate urge to sell you stuff the way vendors in Chiang Mai do.
I have to say though, the place does attract hippies like bees to honey. As we sat down to a lunch of a superfood smoothie and homemade organic smashed avocado pancakes (feel free to judge us at this point), we couldn’t help but people watch a little. Dreadlocks, bandana’s, elephant pants, bamboo tattoo’s in Sanskrit, nose rings, flip flops. It was a genuine challenge to spot someone not sporting one of the above. Even the kids had dreadlocks. Half of the men had beards shaved into something slightly unappealing, half of the women didn’t bother shaving at all.
Familiarising ourselves with this turn back to the sixties, we decided to take a trip up to the Pai Canyon, because Myrthe needed pretty pictures, and I needed exercise: we’d been up since six and getting cranky. The Canyon speaks pretty well for itself, I won’t bother with a long explanation, except for to say the ledge was exceptionally narrow, and I’m counting that entire walk as one big near death experience. Look for yourself:
When we came back from the Canyon, we realised Pai is batman. All relaxed and normal by day, and by night an entirely different animal. Bars had popped up out of nowhere, and so had market and food stalls. We were a little starstruck by the entire thing. Needless to say we felt the need to go out.
I’ll leave the details of the night to your imagination, but let’s leave it at ‘an unforgettable experience’ that punished us with a pounding hangover today. So we decided to cure it with an hour long head, neck, shoulder, back and face massage (at just under 4 euros, who wouldn’t).
But this is Thailand, and these people are either a hell of a lot tougher than we are, or genuinely enjoy pain. Either way, that hurt. Again. No gentle head rubs that we thought we deserved, no soft hands: no this woman’s talons pressed down on my skull so hard I’m starting to doubt I’ve got enough braincells left for a masters degree. Myrthe next to me sounded in just as much pain, when I looked over the first time her masseuse had straddled her and was busy systematically pressing all the air out of her lungs. The second time the tiny Thai woman’s hands were pushing down on her temples so hard I thought her eyes would pop out of her head. No happy ending massage today.