Thailand - Pai: First impression was shocking - but it got better and better...
It took 1 hour to reach Pai by bus from Soppong. The first impression of Pai was really shocking and I was reminded of Christine's words (she was my travel companion for a day in Soppong). There were hords of tourists - but of the unpleasant kind of. Pai used to be an old hippy enclave in the mountains.
But the "real" hippies have nearly disappeared or gone further into the mountains. Nowadays, Pai is full of want to be hippies in dirty clothes and without any behaviour - far away of beeing real hippies. Well, not the place I love to stay and I was glad that I had booked a room outside of Pai. To get to this place I wanted to rent a scooter which turned out to be quite tricky. I went to the first rental, but there was a long queue. So I looked out for another one. But there was only one more rental and they did not have any bikes either. It was midday, it was hot, I was hungry, there were way too many people around and all I wanted to do was leave Pai as soon as possible. But I had booked and paid for the guesthouse and already had a date with Sesse. She is a friend of my "taxi lady" in Chiang Mai. I had a reason to stay. So I went back to the first rental and waited. A lady gave me a piece of paper with the number 3 on it. And 1 hour later I had a bike. Hell, this was the oldest bike I had ever seen. But it worked and I could leave Pai behind me. When I arrived at my guesthouse, Amy’s Earth House, it was like arriving in paradies. It consists of beautiful little bungalows outside a small village with a great view over the hills. Wow, I just sat down, relaxed with a great fruit juice and enjoyed the tranquility.
An hour later I decided to give Pai a second try. First I went to the nail studio of Sesse. A girl working there called her and we agreed to meet the next morning for a coffee. Spontanously, I decided to treat myself nicely today and had a facial treatment for men. That was amazing! You should try it! It was already 7 pm when I left the nail studio and there was highlife on the nightmarket. This market was quite big and surprisingly pleasant. I had some great food and went back to my guesthouse where I was greeted in german by the british owner Rob who had lived in Germany and Switzerland for some time. We sat down together with another swiss couple (Cecile and Flo) who are friends of Rob since he had lived in Switzerland. It was a relaxing evening.
The next morning after a fab breakfast I hurried to town to meet Sesse. We sat down in front of her nail studio and later went to Marco's (another expat and a friend of Sesse) restaurant "Witching Well". Sesse is swiss and she had come to Thailand 17 years ago and stayed since then. Her partner Gilles joined us for lunch. Even though Witching Well offers western food (and normally I try to avoid it) the food was really excellent. I think I had the best chicken salad ever!
After chatting with the expats for some time, I went back on the tourist track. There are a lot of nice things to do and see in Pai. I drove south to visit the old bridge from World War 2 and continued to the Pai Canyon. It is really beautiful there and I walked through this canyon for quite a while. Then, I went back for a bite to eat at the nightmarket. The food there was really amazing! I went back to Amy’s Earth House and we all set together enjoying a couple of beers and playing with the cute little lady dog. She was only 12 days old and Rob was carrying her around and keeping her warm all the time. She was so incredably cute. Later I enjoyed a fantastic shower under the open sky.
The next morning it was already time to leave Pai. I had just started to like this place and I was sad to leave. Well, I had met so many amazing people - and they made my time here! I returned the scooter and walked to the bus station. It was the same public bus I had already taken from Mae Hong Son to Soppong and from Soppong to Pai. As that day there weren't any minibusses, the public bus was packed. But I was really lucky to catch a seat in the entrance. So I could sit, I had fresh air and could enjoy the great views. Well, after my difficulties with Pai in the beginning - now I think I will come back one day. But for the moment I was looking forward to the highlight of my trip.