Sept 15, 2017
“Just go to Pai” they said, “you’ll love it” they said. Well, I guess they were right. Pai was AMAZING, even if it did rain 2 days outta 3 that we stayed. Pai had such a different feeling than Chiang Mai & Bangkok. I can see why people call it the hippie capital of Thailand. Some of the locals look like people I’d see walking around Berkeley, along with pshycadelic art booths, vintage shops, unique cafes, and the fattest street dogs you’ll ever see.
Josh, Liv, and I woke up at Stamps around 10:15. We wanted to check out of the hostel and eat at The Hideout again for some gourmet sammies. I got an avocado and egg on a bagel this time…much better than the sandwich I got the day before that almost burnt my mouth off. The truck to Pai picked us up at 12 along with our new friend, Fred. We also picked up some British boys from the Living Place, the hostel my brother told me I should stay in at Chiang Mai (unfortunately I couldn’t check it out since I was with other people). Steven, Josh, and Josh (yes, there were 3 Josh’s in the truck) were all from the UK, like north or something. I’ve been meeting so many Brits out here and they all talk about the places that their from and the different uni’s (universities) they’ve attended. I just like to sit back and watch British people talk. It’s actually very interesting because it would be like meeting someone from California and talking to them about where we live and the college we attend, since the UK is basically the size of California.
We got to a bus terminal (Aya Bus service, just remember that name) and moved to a mini bus that took us to Pai. The first leg of the bus ride was fine; I slept perfectly. After we stopped at a rest stop for 20 mins and got back on the rode was when I felt sick. The last leg of the journey was so windy, and I usually don’t get car sick, but this road was insane. The roads would curve at such a sharp angle that we’d basically be facing the other way every hundred meters. Luckily, I was sitting in the front, but I can’t imagine sitting in the back let alone motorbiking up it, which is what some of our friends from the Stamps hostel did.
After finally making it to Pai and checking in at this infamous Common Grounds hostel, we went for a walk around the town. Right away I noticed how different it was to Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Instead of a big city, metropolitan feel, it was more laid back, almost like Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu compared to the big capital of Honolulu. The pace was much slower, the vibe was more chill, and the air seemed MUCH cleaner. We also noticed the “heaps” (kiwi/Aussie term for ya) of Western food restaurants the lined the town. They definitely catered to the foreigners, but we were looking for Thai/cheap food! We are in Thailand after all! So we settled on this little hole in the wall restaurant run by a family, so small and little, it didn’t even have a name. There was a little boy and grandma sitting with the tables, the TV was on and on the back wall, directly in the middle. He was watching cartoons eating a popsicle and he was freaking adorable. I gave him a little kangaroo eraser and his grandma told him to say thank you to me. SO SWEET!!! I got some good noddles probably Pad See Ew while the others tried Rad Nah. It was delicious and cheap, just what we were looking for.
We walked around after we finished eating to see what else they had around town. I noticed they had a more significant Muslim population, the only Muslims I’ve seen in Thailand, which is promeintely Buddhist. We headed back to hostel to chill for a bit before we went out for the night. I decided to write my Chiang Mai blogpost in the meantime and let me tell you…that shit took me 3 hours. Josh & Liv kept coming by asking me if I was done yet. Even Sarah, our German friend who we met back at NapPark in Bangkok, came to say hi, left, ate dinner, came back and I still wasn’t done. But, alas, I know this is my obligation and I need to finish it. Plus, after 4 days my memory starts to go and it gets harder to remember the stuff that we did each day.
Once I was finished was when the drinking began. Granted, I didn’t want to drink that much because I’m cheap and the drinking prices were worse than Chiang Mai and Bangkok AND we couldn’t even bring outside alcohol in *eyeroll* (this is the 2nd time a hostel has forbid us to bring outside alcohol into their place because they want to make money from the foreigners). So, I only had a few before they closed the bar (at 11) and we headed out to the town to check out the night scene. The first bar was Boom Bar, their overpriced cocktails, deep house music, and blacklight facepaint were a little overrated, but it was cool to experience. They had a beer pong table, which was cool but you had to pour your own beer in so I suggested water. I kinda had to set it up for the Brits since beer pong is more of an American thing.
We chilled there until we were kicked out at midnight. The next stop was Yellow Sun Pai. This bar still had overpriced cocktails and even worse music. I mean the music was ok, but it was so quiet, their speakers must have been really small. The music choice was all over the place, but I think in order for me to have fun I had to be really drunk, but I was just not because of the drink/price situation. I went back to the hostel with Liv and called it a night, I had to be up early for a tour I booked with Sarah.
Sept 16, 2017
I woke up earlish, around 8:45am since I had to meet Sarah around 9:30. Everyone in my dorm was still sleeping, probably because they’ve all had a crazy night drinking. I met Sarah at this little cafe down the street from my hostel and got a yummy mango shake. After that we got into the back of the truck/cab thing that would be taking us around Pai for our tour. We thought it was a pretty good price, 500 baht for a day at the Lod Cave, hot springs, waterfall, Pai Canyon, and see the sunset at a viewpoint, with lunch included. This was definitely a budget tour, I could tell from the big cloud of smoke that spewed from the exhaust every 10 seconds. It didn’t help I was sitting right next to it. The others on the tour were all Brits basically, and one Scott but I kinda put them all in the same boat since they’re from the UK. It was pretty cloudy that day but it hadn’t start raining yet (although it looked like rain).
Our first stop was the Lod Cave, which was probably my favorite. We walked to the mouth of the cave where men on bamboo, homemade boats were waiting. Only 3 of us plus one guide could fit on them. They paddled us out about 200 feet to the part of the cave where we could walk around. It was really cool, granted the Thai guides were only there to point out formations that looked like different animals like the Elephant ear, Frogs, bats, etc. It was pretty cool to see and I really enjoyed the bamboo boat ride, even if it only lasted a minute. When we got back I went to the bathroom and once I got out is when it started to pour. Luckily, Sarah and I were not far from the restaurant so we tucked and ran.
The tour included lunch, so we got to pick from 4 menu items what we wanted. I got Gra Pow Gai (Chicken stir fry with basil), which turned out to be such a small portion. Sarah wasn’t as hungry because she ate a little before so I had her leftovers. After we were all finished with our meal, we headed to our next activity. It started to pour down rain and we were in the back of these trucks that had covers on the top and sides. Of course, I was sitting at the end so I got the majority of the rain. We stopped next at this supposed “viewpoint” but the clouds were so massive and it was so misty/rainy you couldn’t see anything. I’m sure during a sunny day it’s nice and beautful, but I literally couldn’t see shit.
After sitting through another pour down in the truck, I couldn’t wait to get to the hot springs. Because, not only am I wet, but I’m also cold from being in the back of a speeding truck. The hot springs were really nice. You couldn’t really call them hot, they were more warm springs than hot, but it still sufficed. There was this cute little local Thai boy that kept splashing around. There were lots of tourist there so I think he got a kick out of all the attention. He would climb up this broken tree in the middle of the hot springs, then jump and splash everyone. It was pretty adorable.
While at the hot springs, we were informed that we couldn’t go to the waterfall because of the amount of rain and I guess it would be dangerous? I’m not sure, I have a hard time understanding sometimes so I just generally nod my head like I get it. We also couldn’t see the sunset because it was just overcast and cloudy. So we ended up at this coffee place so we could see A view. The funniest part was that everyone had bought plastic ponchos from the hot springs and decided to wear them. We also happened to all get different color ponchos, there was a pink, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. So fucking hilarious.
The guide then took us to this place they call the Canyon, which is just an interesting land formation that has steep cliff sides and small pathways. I’m sure it would have been nice during the day or with sunlight but in the rain it was just miserable. He said he was gonna give us 50 minutes to check out the place but everyone was done in 15 and we headed back home.
After a nice warm shower, Josh, Liv, Cortland & Patrick (our friends from Jackson Hole, who motorbiked up that day in the pouring rain) and some other people from the hostel went out to get some street food. At around 6pm, these food stalls open down one of the main streets of Pai with really good food. The best part is that EVERYTHING IS CHEAP! Items range from 10 baht to a 100 baht (for more of the fancier stuff). Josh and I first split some potstickers, then spring rolls because we wanted to sample everything without getting a full portion to ourselves. I also had some skewers that were bomb. Since Pai is like the hippie capital, most places offer vegan and vegetarian friendly items, which is a nice change.
We all got our fill then went back to the hostel for another night of drinking. I had a few more than the night before, but again not enough to get drunk without my pockets really feeling it. The coolest part about my hostel is not the facilities or the atmosphere…it’s THE DOGS! They have 3 dogs that kinda roam around the place. Two look like your standard street dog, with no collar and a iffy temperament, their names were Panda and Nektah (I think this is how you spell it, it’s Thai so I could be completely wrong but just sound it out phonetically). One of them was this smaller girl pup who was pretty different looking. She was probably between 6 months and a year, but she definitely had the temperament of a puppy. Her name was Stevie and she was quite the character. Very naughty at times, but in the cutest ways. She’d play with her ball, try and get Panda to play with her, get attention from foreigners, mess with the frogs at night, bark at the most random people, bite the pillow cushions, just puppy things. She was definitely my favorite and one who you could tell was raised around foreigners because she didn’t have that uneasy/untrusting temperament that some of the dogs had, probably from being abused by some of the locals.
Sarah, Liv, Josh and I went out again. We ended up at Boom Bar again but once it closed, we decided to go back. However, this day was SUPER rainy. So, naturally, we all decided to run back to the hostel, in the rain, a little drunk. It was so much fun and definitely an experience for the books.
Sept 17, 2017
Today I woke up late because I wanted to sleep in. Josh, Liv and I got breakfast/lunch at the place we ate the first day, the little hole in the wall. Since it was rainy and cold again, Liv and I went for the noddle soup. It was SOOO good. Josh pointed out that they put the little kangaroo animal eraser that I gave the little boy on top of their TV, for everyone to see. WHEN I SAW THAT IT LITERALLY MADE MY HEART MELT! It made me feel so good inside!
There wasn’t much we could do for the rest of the day since it was super rainy. We walked around and explored a little. But for most of the day we just chilled back at the hostel and played pool. We had such a late start to the day anyways and Josh wanted to watch his Arsenal footie game at 7:30. We got some street food before getting to a restaurant called the Banana Bar & Restaurant, who was broadcasting the game. Ben & Becca met us there, our British friends from Stamps, who we planned to meet. This bar actually had affordable drinks (& pizza). Liv and I couldn’t resist, the pizza was calling us.
After an uneventful footie match (no one scored, who even likes watching soccer it’s so boring, JK loads of people around the world love soccer and I’m sure they say the same thing about baseball) all of us, including Ben and Becca, went back to Common Ground to chill and drink there. We got there pretty late because the bar closed a few minutes after we got there. They generally kick us out and make us either go out or go to our dorms to sleep, but because we were pretty quiet and mellow they let us sit and chat for a while. I also forgot my water bottle so I ran all the way back Banana to get it, I’m not losing that thing it’s freaking great. And we called it an early night.
Sept 18, 2017
I woke up pretty late again today. Liv and I wanted to get our laundry done today so we dropped it off at this sweet lady’s shop. The lady who we first wanted to get it done by was very rude when we told her we didn’t want it dried in the dryer (later we figured we had to since hang drying takes a whole day and we were only staying one more night). She told us to go find another place and pretended not to hear us when we asked questions. So we said fuck it and went somewhere else to someone who deserved our business. We had another late breakfast/early lunch at this cute cafe called Om Garden. It’s a very hippie, vegan-like place that served pretty bomb ass food. I got this fried cauliflower burger with a banana coconut shake, which HOLY EFF was the best thing I’d ever drank (at least in Thailand).
I just wanted to chill again today. Liv and Josh rented motorbikes to explore, but I was very nervous that it was going to rain and didn’t trust myself to drive in wet conditions (it didn’t end up pouring rain like I thought it would). So I just chilled, hung out with Stevie, got a workout in, and took a shower. When I came back out Liv and Josh had just gotten back and were talking about something they witnessed on their motorbike adventure. Apparently, some girl had crashed her motorbike, she was probably on her phone and didn’t see the corner and completely wiped out. She was also probably in shock, only fussing about her phone which was lost (Josh later found it in the bushes). The Thailand police/army dressed guys (?) were trying to help her but she was just fixated on finding her phone. The ambulance later came and cleaned her up. I’m sort of glad I didn’t ride the motorbikes because I feel like that could have happened to me. I know you just have to be careful and aware, but I’m just not trusting of my motorbike abilities.
However, I did ride on the back of Liv’s when we went to go pick up our laundry. We did a few laps around town after we were told our laundry would be done in 10 minutes. After picking up our laundry we packed, chilled, and went out again for street food. This time I got pockstickers (my favorite and how can you say no to 5 potstickers for 20 baht or less than $1), cha sui bao (siopow for my Filipino friends), fried tofu, and MANGO STICKY RICE! After eating and doing more laps around town on the motorbikes (in the back of one for me) we went to this vintage store with cool vintage button-ups that Josh wanted to look at one last time. I ended up getting this cool fish Hawaiian shirt and I LOVE IT!!
Back at the hostel we didn’t decide to drink since we had to be up at 6:30am. So we played pool and called it a night.
Now I’m sitting in Chiang Khong, at the boarder between Thailand & Laos. After a crazy lodging debacle (which I will get to next blog post) we’re comfortably in a better guesthouse. Tomorrow, we’ll be on the slow boat to Laos, which generally takes 2 days. So stay tuned for the next episode of MELISSA’S SOUTHEAST ASIA ADVENTURE!!!