Pai in the sky
Trip Start Oct 15, 2013
48Trip End Apr 15, 2014
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A couple of people and reviews online recommend that you hire a scooter and make your own way through the mountain roads. Everyone gets about by scooter here, everyone and their dog. I mean that literally, we saw a dog on a scooter the other day, he was very casual about the whole thing, he didn't even have his tongue out. They pile their whole family on one scooter, sometimes up to 4 people at once, and the scary part is not many people wear helmets, even when they drive on motorways, and they take their children on with them, again with no helmet! The best/ worse is when they sit toddlers in front of the driver, it's very dangerous, but they hold onto the handlebars for balance, and it make it look like the kid is driving the rest of the family- and their chubby little cheeks wobble in the wind- so cute
We were considering our options the day we went on the zip lining tour, and the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that we should make the journey ourselves. I think the adrenaline might have played a part in that conclusion as I have never ridden a scooter before, I've never even been on the back of one before and it's been a good ten years since I have donned the seat of a push bike- but I'm told that this is a skill that doesn't leave you for long- what's that saying? Anyway, seeing as I was totally convinced that I would be absolutely fine as I had watched several people scooter about while we came back from zip lining, Nath thought it would be wise to hire a bike and perhaps do a little practicing. I thought I would humour him but in my head, I was majestically playing out my part in the Motor Cycle Diaries, cursing through the mountains, hair flapping in the breeze. We convinced the lady at the scooter hiring shop (probably not the real name for that type of establishment) to let me have a little test drive, althought I confessed that I had never actually been on one, my bravado convinced her (and me) that I would be really good at it, so she showed me how to start it and to make it go- easy peasy! I mounted by mechanical steed, turned to give Nath a confident thumbs up and pulled back the throttle.... and nearly crashed into the wall. Thinking that I better get a move on before this lady tries to take back the bike, I composed myself and gave it another go....
As it transpires, the roads to Pai look like a line that was drawn by a child- if you had given that child several espressos, a puppy and shook them upside down whilst they drew said line. Yikes is all I can say, and thank god we didn't try and do that by bike! The roads are hairpin turns up mountains, I was convinced that we weren't going to get up some parts as they were so sheer and the bus had to take most of the 700+ turns (not an exaggeration, there are 760 something) wide as you couldn't turn that sharply. We had read that people often get sick on the buses and you would have a good run if you didn't have to stop for someone to offload their lunch, so we took some pills, avoided breakfast and hoped for the best
When we got to Pai, it was mid afternoon and we headed for our hostel, which was a bamboo bungalow by the river, just outside Pai centre. The hut itself was fine, it was a small bamboo hut on stilts, with a small bedroom and a bathroom which was at ground level, with a concrete floor, a toilet (which you flushed using water from a bucket) a sink and a shower- quite basic, but it was £10 a night, so we weren't expecting much, and it was a bit like glamping really. We went for some food and spent the rest of the day phaffing. We got a reasonably early night, and tried to bed down under the mosquito net, which had holes in it as big as my head! I don't know what kind of mozzies they have there, but I'm pretty sure they would be able to get through that! We did our best to patch it up and tried to sleep, except the people that work at the hostel were having a party, so were blasting music until the small hours of the night. Once that stopped, we got a good 90 minutes until the cockerels woke up. Oh my life, that is such an unattractive noise, and to be woken up by it made it even more painful. The worse thing was, if one crows, the other responds to it, so it's like some sort of terrible acoustic domino effect designed only to infuriate and torture people who ARE TRYING TO SLEEP
Once we got up, I was grumpy and squeaky (squeaking- the female version of fatigued grunting when you want something, disapprove of something, when someone tries to change the channel, when you need a cup of tea, and is a form of communication only understood by the females partner when he knows it's best to 'just leave her to it'). Although we had booked 3 nights, we weren't going to stick that out for that long without killing someone- most likely each other, so told them we were leaving and paid for one night. Finding another place was easy as there are many guest houses, so we had moved within an hour and found a nice place for breakfast- happy bunnies once more, and booked a day tour for the next day.
We got picked up at 4am- which unfortunate didn't leave enough time for ninja school, so I had to postpone that vendetta and get on with enjoying my day. We had a couple of hours minibus ride to a national park to see the sunrise. Again the roads were very windy, but at that time of the morning and when you are in your 'sleep overdraft' it didn't bother us too much. When we got to the park, it was still quite dark, but we were told to get out and wander round for 2 hours
The next day, our friends Hannah and Meg from Bristol who are traveling for a month around Thailand met us in Pai
1: What language did linguist Marc Okrand invent
2: How many episodes of Fawlty Towers were made
Answers at the bottom- no cheating!
The next day we hired scooters for the price of £1 for 24 hours per bike and once Nath and Hannah had a practice run, Meg and I hopped on the back and we scootered off to some hot springs. Nath was confident on the scooter, and I do trust him, but I am the worst backseat driver and a bossy boots and those two mixed together makes for the worst passenger ever, especially when I'm not used to being on two wheels. After only letting me on if I promised to keep my mouth shut- so as not to hen peck him/ eat flying bugs- he was actually a very good driver. I think the thought of having to tell my dad that he had hurt his last born spurred him on to be extra vigilant, especially as my dad often tells Nath to look after me when we say goodbye
Thought of the day- Nath nan- my adopted 'Glam'ma is called Betty, but I call her B, and she, at the tender age of 70 something, bought an iPad so she can video chat with us while we are away. She is now a self proclaimed silver surfer, and when she isn't chatting with us, she is getting her 'David Hockney on' and painting on her iPad, which I think is something to be commended. My favourite thing about B is that she has made me promise that 'when she gets old' she wants to be wheeled around in her wheelchair, dressed in a onsie and a green Statue of Liberty foam hat. She has requested that her velcro slippers be encrusted with gems, glitter and sequin and in her own words 'I might take up swearing, because I think you can get away with it when you are old'.