As we journeyed up the 130 kilometer (80 miles) mountain around the infamous 762 curves to Pai, a small village in northern Thailand, I had a feeling we were in for a treat. When we arrived I was not only thankful to have gotten there in one piece but also that I had held down the breakfast after that windy trek! I truly have never seen anything like this road.
We hadn’t booked anything yet so we found ourselves wandering around the city center looking for a place. After much speculation, myself and four other girls decided to share a bungalow next to the river. The two queen-sized beds were surrounded by mosquito nets and you could hear the echoes of crickets, party music and many other unknown creatures in our ensuite, as it was open to the outdoors. I’m all about trying new things and getting in touch with nature, but the tarantula sized spider that creeped up on me in the shower scared me right out of that bungalow and into a private, enclosed, air-conditioned room the following night. Lesson learned.
The first few days greeted us with grey skies and never-ending rain. We knew coming into this trip that is was rainy season, but we were not expecting 24 hours of nonstop showers. This put a damper on the week but we found things to do and met some really wonderful people. The night markets were once again filled with a diverse choice of street food. One of my favorites was the Thai Samosa, which was a grilled tortilla with potato, carrot and pumpkin on the inside and curry powder and peanut sauce on the outside. So scrumptious! And of course, the famous fruit shakes!
This little hippie village nestled in the mountains is easy to get lost in. I don’t mean lost in a directional sense, but more mentally. Most of the people that live there (a lot of westerner’s) said they ended up there after only planning to stay for a week or two and just haven’t left yet. I definitely understood where they were coming from due to the very laid back lifestyle and beautiful scenery. It was like being Away from the World, without a worry in sight. The Thai people refer to this as Mai Pen Rai – kind of like Hakuna Matata.
Natural Hot Springs
On the fourth day of rain we decided it was time to get back on the road. We headed to the bus station and to our dismay we were informed that the busses were completely booked for the following day and we would have to wait until Friday. We were disappointed but we booked our bus for Friday and decided to rent some pedal bikes to ride around town for the day. We considered motor bikes but the combination of rain and inexperience sounded like trouble. We hopped on our bikes and made our way into the mountains. I thought I was in decent shape until I had to climb these hills on a bike! We didn’t get too far…
We woke up on Thursday and to our surprise, THE SUN WAS OUT! We grabbed some breakfast and rented our motorbikes for the day. Exploring the countryside through mountains and forests was definitely one of the highlights of the trip so far. Nothing feels quite like freedom as feeling the fresh air in your face as you travel on a scooter through the backroads of Northern Thailand.
That extra, sunny day really changed my impression of Pai. This small, unique village will always hold a special place in my heart. I made the 16 hour journey to Bangkok for a short visit before I head off to the islands tonight. I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend, wherever you may be! MAI PEN RAI =)