The way to Pai turned into a race, as I felt like riding and only made a few stops. The scooter I had was going fine though sometimes lacked a little power in the hills. When you go to Pai from Chiang Mai (c120km) you are looking at some serious serpentine action. In total 762 turns. Really good fun though dangerous for the inexperienced rider. At least the roads are pretty decent.
I arrived in the dark, checked in (Chill Lom house … recommended) and went on to the market. Pai has a wonderful walking street with some of the best food I had during my time in Thailand. There are many westerners, but the chilled kind and hence with good vibes. Also the food is a bit adopted to the visitors unlike anywhere else I had been (like Burrito, falafel, garlic bread etc), but a welcome change from Pad Thai and chicken curry. Really enjoyable. I had bacon & cheese toasty, fresh strawberries and avocado, delicious chicken BBQ and fried potato (similar to what I ate in Koh Phangan). A face massage for dessert (at least no questions about happy ending though 1h face massage is excessive!). I decided to stay two nights, which was certainly one of the easier decisions in my life.
Hanging out in Pai: Daytime activities are plentiful in Pai though I couldn’t do more temples. Instead, I headed for the Pie canyon to do some hiking (advanced stuff and in places very steep & dangerous) and the Pie hinterland (a bridge built through rice fields that is pretty scenic). On my way back into Pie i stopped at a cafe (‘coffee in love‘) where they offer you egg chair type seating and chatted away with Laetitia from Switzerland. Nice to chat … time went by so quickly …
Naturally, I found myself at the night market again for dinner and met Viking from Iceland (now that’s a first down here). We got on well instantly and spent the best part of the night together. He has been here for a few month already and trains muay thai in Pai. He loves it totally and will stay for a long time he says (funded by renting his Reykjavik apartment). We visited some bars a bit outside the centre (sunset & paradise) though didn’t quite find what we were looking for. At midnight, Pai shuts down and only Don’t Cry bar (right across the bridge towards the east of Pie) is still opened. Many people headed that way while we went back into town where I met another Saxon fellow though arguably pretty wasted already (he had some serious problems locating his scooter). Time for bed.
Chiang Mai: I wasn’t too much in a rush in the morning to get back to Chiang Mai, but the scooter was due back by 5pm. The ride was swift and I made it in about two hours (120km … not bad) taking in the scenery a last time. In Chiang Mai I did the last two temples i could stomach (see here for a more complete list of the vast amount of temples you can see here) before taking an enjoyable stroll through the 3D illusions venue ‘art in paradise’ …. unusual, fun, recommended (there are other outlets such as in Bangkok etc). For the evening it was reunion time with Gav (who made his way here after Koh Tao) and Valentine (who I met in Khao SokKhao Sok). And of course, it wouldn’t be a hostel if there weren’t new people … like Kaya (Holland) and Charles (England). It would be fair to say that we turned the night into day (Yellow bar and Spicy club) at the expense of a timely departure on my side next morning. But no regrets … great last night. Thanks guys!