The tour continued in the direction of the hippie town called Pai. It was located about 134 kilometers north west of Chiang Mai. One could think that it is not so far away and that one would reach the destination in about 1.5 hours but this calculation is without taking the fact into consideration that the road would be going through mountains. In a small Hyundai we started our journey at about lunch time, I think we were around ten people who enjoyed the stunning view through the serpentines. A monk was occupying the seat next to the driver, they enjoy such a wonderful way of being honored. At one point we reached some sort of check point where some of us were asked to show their passports, luckily I wasn’t. I was sitting right behind the monk so I was able to take a quick look into his special monk passport, didn’t know they even had to carry a special passport! Quite interesting.
Finally, we reached the small town of Pai and the first thing to do was to find a secure place to sleep, the usual procedure. The Dutch girl Eva who I met in Bangkok had recommended a place called Pai Park Cottage and as organized as Virgos are, I had booked it in advance. Just to be sure. Unfortunately, neither Google Maps nor any other map service online had heard of the place before. For the reason that I had by now tuned in to the travel spirit, I was quite certain that I would find the place regardless but I was wrong it seemed. No local had ever heard of the name before. Eventually an older lady told me to go into a certain direction and then later a man pointed into a completely different one! It was hilarious. I walked passed bamboo bridges and gravel roads and it was burning hot. Then a taxi driver was looking at the paper map I had gotten by now and pointed out where the place was, I saw the street sign and it felt like I had mastered this maze. The path up to the cottages then turned out to go over another bamboo bridge and it looked so cool. The absolute adventure. Me walking with the huge backpack on my shoulder across a bamboo bridge.
After I enjoyed a couple of wonderful sunsets from my cottage on the river, one day I started out to go on an adventure by foot in search of a waterfall which was around seven kilometers away. The first hour of my walk along gravel roads went by without any problems. I took in all the impressions of the surrounding fields and admired the mountains. Three ox were having the time of their life in a water place. There were no fences it seemed. After a while though it got somewhat more challenging, I was running out of water and hadn’t thought about the hydration fact before. No shops were in sight. I was confronted with a human survival challenge, kind of. This was really a strange realization for me with my Western mind. In the end I couldn’t make it to the waterfall but following the river upwards was very enriching as well.
As I approached civilization afterwards, I met another solo female traveler and we hit it off after I warned her about the waterfall which was so impossible to reach. She was from southern Belgium and on her way towards a temple from where the sunset was supposedly to be amazing. Out of the blue we arranged to meet up for a beer later in the evening. We didn’t have any local SIM for our phones so we agreed to meet at the 7-Eleven. The evening was great and even though we started out to be just the two of us, this didn’t last long. I had run into a couple of other people across town over the days and for some strange reason our ways found each other again. People know more people and in the end we were quite international: New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, England, Sweden and Germany. It was such a lovely crowed and hanging with them at the river, drinking beer and sharing stories, we made the moment count.
So, yeah, Pai was pretty nice and I can definitely recommend a stay in a one of those cottages. Yet be prepared for some huge animals in your bed. I was given the opportunity to learn how to sleep when knowing there is a huge insect under the bed. It was really challenging but I managed and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger anyway.