Big Ol’ Slice of Pai

Stepping back into my regular travel updates after the brief elephants diversion, this post is all about our time in Pai.

Pai is a small town in Northern Thailand which is very popular with backpackers, seriously it’s overrun with them. Lots of travellers visit Pai and then go to a similar town on the same route called Mae Hong Son. Our original plan was actually to visit the ancient town of Chiang Dao afterwards, before moving onto Chiang Rai. Soooo none of that went to plan, which I will get into a bit later.

View from the lower level of the White Buddha

We were only supposed to be spending a few days here, so I went VERY cheap on accommodation, something like £11 for 3 nights in an outdoor bungalow. The place had good reviews so we were pretty confident about it, worst mistake ever. We were about a 20 minute walk from town, which is fine because everyone just hires a motorcycle as their mode of transport. I’ll admit, we considered having a lesson and hiring one, before looking into the statistics. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE does it there, has a one hour motorbike lesson and then boom that’s it, hire one and go wherever you want. You don’t even have to prove you’ve had the lesson or show any form of driving license so honestly anyone could, and I see why, it’s the only way to get around Pai. However, I feel that travellers really aren’t looking into the cons before they decide to hire one; Thailand is rated the second most likely country for a tourist to have a fatal car accident, Pai being the most dangerous place at 250 tourist accidents a year, that’s almost one a day. After being in Pai a few days, we were not at all surprised by these statistics. NOBODY wears a helmet and they wear extremely little clothing, tourists who don’t know how to ride are riding around everywhere, the roads are bendy and they go way too fast. Walking back to our accommodation, we would have multiple people serve towards us and that was extremely scary. One time we were outside a 7 Elven (cos ya know Thailand) and this guy was sat on his bike talking to his girlfriend, who was standing on the street. We made eye contact with the girlfriend and she clearly saw us walking behind his bike to manoeuvre around them, when the guy just decides to start backing out, not ONCE checking around him and almost going over one of our feet. If you are driving a vehicle you have to be responsible, something people on holiday just don’t want to be. This guy immediately started blaming us for walking behind him, not at all taking into account he didn’t look. I should stop ranting about this now but everyone has just got to be careful of themselves when they are travelling, so many people just refuse to think that bad things do happen and they happen often.

Anyway, the walking street was definitely the coolest part about Pai, even if it was quite a walk away. There are street food stalls galore and it’s all amazing stuff, Pad Thai, Burgers, Nachos, Potatoes, Lasagna just everything. We met an American guy and Thai guy at one stall who sat us down and offered us some whisky with soda, not a drink I would have again but it was a nice gesture and we had fun talking to them.

On the third day we went on a tour which consisted of a cave, hot spring, the White Buddha and the Pai canyon. I was really excited to go to the canyon and we had no way of getting there before so I was looking forward to it. We had already seen the White Buddha as it was only a 5 minute walk from where we were staying and sadly at the time was under construction, although the view from the top of the hill was incredible.

The start of the tour was awesome, we had a tour guide show us around the cave and we rode on bamboo boats under all birds and bats flying overhead, yes I did get pooped on twice, yes I was the ONLY one to get pooped on, no it was not funny. We had a questionable lunch afterwards and headed back onto the full songthaew to go to the hot springs. It was at this point I started to have an incredibly painful headache, I’m really not somebody who gets headaches often so when I do it usually means something is up. The heat and the blasting wind hitting my head from being in the back of a speeding songathew made things 100x worse. We had got to the hot spring and were told we had an hour there, which I really did not want, I felt awful but stuck it out for an hour sitting on the side drinking plenty of water (but then consequently having to use the worse toilet of my life, thinking about it now is making me gag). It took a long ride to get back to the White Buddha and I didn’t mention before that this car was FALLING APART, it was so dangerous to have this many people on it driving through the mountains, I was honestly imagining the news headline of all these tourists dying in a crash. Once we made it to the White Buddha just about alive, I decided I couldn’t make it to the canyon and we left the tour early.

See that scaffolding, ya see

So this accommodation, first of all I had to check the bed definitely had a mattress, that’s how rock hard it was. I sleep on my stomach and I would wake up in the morning aching like I’d done 80 sets of sit-ups in my sleep. The bathroom did not have a ceiling, just the roof, bugs and geckos alike often hung out in there. The location was outside of town and in the middle of the forest, which meant every night we were in the middle of a cicada musical, not want you want when you have a pounding headache.

That night I had the worst pounding headache I’ve ever experienced and incredibly painful stomach cramps, turned out I had got very bad food poisoning and was ill for a number of days. We moved into a nicer hotel the next day, which was a lot better for me while I was feeling ill although it was a little further out of town than the last place. My boyfriend walked over an hour to get us dinner that night (ma hero). Long story short, I became very dehydrated and had no energy so visited the doctor and hospital to determine what was wrong and what medicine I needed. Once the medicine started working I had a much better time and was able to try out some awesome restaurants when I was eating again. We ended spending about a week in Pai and only had one night in Chiang Rai before we had to get onto the boat we had booked previously into Laos. I won’t go too much into the restaurants because then this post would be crazy long, but I was able to get an English sausage and Cheddar cheese panini, that meant a lot to me.

The hotel had a bamboo bridge leading up to it and I was CERTAIN it was gonna break

I didn’t mean to have such a negative tone in this post, but Pai was the first time I got ill on this trip and I still don’t know if it was from the walking street or the questionable tour lunch. I was ill once again in Vietnam because the antibiotics had not fully got rid of the infection, and today I am sat in Koh Tao experiencing very similar symptoms and praying I am not going to be ill for a third time. Although I did just manage to eat a load of Poutine and ill people don’t really do that.

So excited to be moving on again we took a photo of our packed bags

Thank you as always for reading, I’ve actually finally finished the first Thai series! My next post is going to be all about crossing the Laos border and having an INCREDIBLE 2 day boat trip along the Mekong River into Luang Prabang, which I cannot wait to write about!

Lon x

I used to live in Moscow so finding Borscht made me so happy! (excuse that I’m an ill looking thing and no I don’t know what my pinkies are doing)

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