Life of Pai

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
Trip End Jan 07, 2011

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Easy as Pai"? "Slice of Pai"? "Pai R Squared"? There were many stupid titles running through my head for this one...

The trip from Chiang Mai to Pai was kind of crazy - the minibus we were in was flying up all of these different curves in the road. Once we got to Pai (if all the t-shirts they sell are to be believed), we found out there are over 700 curves on that stretch of road. Good thing Sarah took a gravol before we headed up...

Before we got to Pai, we decided that we wanted to stay somewhere a little out of the main town, so when we arrived, we rented a motorbike to go check some places out. It didn't take long for us to find somewhere that we liked - we stayed at a nice little place that had bamboo huts with great views, but was still walking distance to town. The festival that had started when we were in Chiang Mai was still going on here in Pai, so we participated in another of the associated activities. This one involved sending a small boat made out of banana leaves, decorated with flowers, a lit candle and burning incense down the river. This was supposed to signify you "letting go" of any grudges or bad feelings you had accumulated over the past year.

The next day in Pai, we decided to go and visit some of the sites around the town on our trusty motorbike. There was a nearby waterfall that we wanted to check out, but when we arrived at the end of the dirt road that led towards it, it turned out that the waterfall was another 3 hours by foot. Seeing how we had no food and not much water with us, we decided to skip the waterfall for one day. After we drove back out to the road, we continued on to a nearby temple - which had some nice views out over the valley, and to some nearby hot springs. The hot springs were pretty interesting - according to the signs, the water was over 80 degrees C, and if you wanted to, you could buy eggs to boil in the water. We decided that the other tourists there could enjoy the salmonella...

On the road back to town, there were a lot of places at the side of the road offering elephant rides. We were a little torn about this...we thought it was a little weird, and were concerned with how the elephants might be treated, but after stopping at one of the elephant camps, and feeding the elephants, we decided that it was something that we might not ever have a chance to do again, so we should give it a shot. We spent an hour with an elephant and its trainer - walking down to a nearby river, playing with the elephant in the water, and then walking back. All things considered, it was pretty fun, and I think we're both glad we decided to do it.

That night, back in town, the festival was still going on, as we found out when we ended up in the middle of a parade when we were walking to dinner.

The next day, we decided to hike out to the "3 hour" waterfall. When we parked the motorbike at the end of the dirt road, we were greeted by a small white and orange dog, who seemed incredibly excited to see us - turned out we'd just gained a companion for the day. Almost as soon as the hike began, the trail crossed the river. There was no bridge, or stones to walk across, so we took our shoes and socks off, and waded across. Almost immediately, it crossed back over. After about half an hour - and our fifth river crossing - we decided that taking our shoes and socks off was a big waste of time, so we just started wading across. It was a good thing, as we ended up crossing the river well over 20 times on our way to the waterfall. Figuring out exactly where to go in some spots was pretty hard - we were told to "just follow the river" - and in some cases it took some effort. All the way up, our new canine companion was never far from us, so we shared our food with her, and even lifted her up one stretch where we had to climb over a large boulder.

Finally, after 3 hours, we came to the waterfall, where we took a break, and had some lunch. As it was already 1pm (and it starts to get dark here at around 5pm), we decided we shouldn't linger (we also hadn't seen one other person during our hike). On the way back, our canine guide had apparently had enough of our poor route-finding skills, as she stayed about 20 feet ahead of us, and took us on a very different route back. She kept running ahead of us, looking back to make sure we were following, then continuing on. Fairly soon after we left the waterfall, she took us on a trail that went really high up one of the sides of the hills beside the river...we were questioning whether we should be blindly following a dog, but because it was over one of the hardest stretches on the way up, we decided to give it a shot. She eventually took us back down to the river, and onto a very easy path, completely skipping the difficult section. After that, we just decided to follow the dog regardless of where she went, which turned out to be great delegation of decision-making - we got back to the motorbike in just over 2 hours; almost an hour faster than our way up. (There were MUCH fewer river crossings on the way down too.) Lesson learned: when you don't know where you're going, just follow a local.

It was time for us to move on, and because our initial 15 day stay in Thailand was over, we were heading to Laos. Turns out the only direct transit from Pai to where we wanted to cross the Thai-Laos border left at the curious time of 8pm...but I think I'll tell that story in the next entry.
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Tracy on

I think the name for this entry should be 'The Littlest Hobo'

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