Chiang Mai and Pai: beautiful scenery, temples, canyons and motorbike trekking

IMG_20150730_093645At the end of July, I had two day off work due to two Buddhist National holidays, therefore giving myself a long weekend to travel around Thailand. IMG_20150730_094612

I decided to leave straight after school on Wednesday to get the most of my time there. Luckily, I am one of those people who doesn’t mind travelling on a coach overnight. After purchasing a ticket at Mochit Bus terminal, I grabbed some food from the food court and mounted onto the bus. I was extremely impressed with the coach company and journey. I got given water, a snack, pillow, blanket before even departing at 7 o’clock. The seat was surprisingly comfy but due to the rain outside I did get dripped on from a leaky ceiling. However, this did not stop me from getting a solid 6 hours of sleep. On the way, we stopped for a meal (pumpkin, egg and rice, which is currently my favourite food), watched a film and got given breakfast snack and then finally arrived at 7 o’clock in the morning.IMG_20150730_110430

In Chiang Mai, the arcade bus terminal is a bit further out but I managed to squashed onto a songtaow, where it drove around the main rectangular road, dropping people off. I got off at Chang Pueak Gate to find my hostel, which was a couple of minutes walk away. There was no-one at reception but I just sat around, charging my phone and deciding what to do in this city. IMG_20150730_103017

During the morning, I walked around Old City, seeing the beautiful temples and architecture. Chiang Mai was a lot smaller than I expected. I knew it was the second biggest place after Bangkok so thought it would be at least half the size of the capital. It was extremely easy to wander around on foot, where I visit Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Chiang Man and Phantom Tao. They were all free and well worth a visit. Lunch was interesting. I consumed food from a small local restaurant, where I like to try something different, Dried crispy fish and mango salad with a pineapple shake. It was the most appetising of food with different textures and the dried fish getting stuck in my teeth.

The afternoon was pretty relaxed, where I went to Waroros market, which had loads of food and IMG_20150730_110518clothes to offer, and had a Thai massage, which was just what I needed. The lady was extremely good, pushing all the tension out but she seemed to disappear for 10 minutes in the middle of it. After, I strolled along the Night Bazaar road, where they were setting up for the evening. There were clothes stalls, food vendors, stages for performances. By this time, exhaustion was hitting me so I found a place for dinner, where I ate Crispy Yellow noodle pad Thai (This is a typical northern Thailand dish), and headed to the hostel to sleep.

The next morning, I searched for a place to rent a motorbike as I was driving to Pai. The first shop was closed so I went to a different hostel to go through them. The lovely receptionist sorted one IMG_20150731_160522out, where she to.d me not to tell the company I was driving to Pai. Even in the contract, it says not to drive to certain areas including Pai but I though I would take the risk anyway. While waiting for the bike, the lady was eating a traditional Thai breakfast (glass noodles and sticky rice, with a coconut, sugary, sweet, caramel, nutty concoctions in a banana leaf for dessert) with her child, where she offered to share with me. This is one thing I love about Thai, they are so generous and friendly.

After 4 hours of driving on a motorbike through high winds, fog, torrential rain on an extremely windy, steep, dangerous road, I finally arrived in Pai. The scenery was incredible both on the way and in Pai. IMG_20150731_133212On the way to the hostel, I stopped to explore the Memorial Bridge, Pai Canyon and strawberry love. At the hostel, I couldn’t check in as the person on the counter didn’t speak English and as I was starving, I thought I would find somewhere to eat. The hostel was a bit out of the main town and wasn’t easy to find so I would recommend staying in the centre. Most of Pai’s attractions are scattered around the area so having a motorbike is an advantage. Even though the rain was on and off all afternoon, I still made the most of my time by seeing the Mor Paeng Waterfall, Baan Santichon (Chinese village) and Yun Lai view point, which overlooked the whole of Pai. As I was driving around, I had several Thai’s gesturing a smoking as they wanted me to stop to buyIMG_20150801_100753 some weed or some kind of drug from them.
In the evening, I checked into my hostel, where I was staying in a little hut with a mattress on the floor and a mosquito net, then heading to Walking Street with a outdoor market. As I was IMG_20150731_163927strolling around, the whole place had a great vibe with people eating and chilling in small cafes, small souvenir shops scattered around and music playing. I ate some delicious food from the market including a potato, pumkin and peanut sauce samosa, a chocolate roti and vegetable gyoza. From driving for so long, i decided to have an earlier night, which was kind of hard as the Circus Hostel next door had loud music and noisy crowds.

The following day, after enjoying a complimentary breakfast from the hostel, I explored Pai a little bit more. I went to Wat Pra Tat Mae Yen which is the temple on the hill with a huge Buddha IMG_20150801_103929and one incredible view. On the way to Pam Bok Waterfall, I got recommend to go to land split, which is basically where some men decided to split the land and is now trying to turn it into a tourist attraction. It’s nothing spectacular but guy on the way in was lovely. He gave me some juice, freshly grown banana and some wine. If you’re in Pai, go say ‘hi’ and appreciate Thailand’s finest hospitality. The drive to the waterfall is IMG_20150801_104741quite far and seems like a never-ending road. I even had a few people stop me and ask ‘How much further?’ There was a little trek to the waterfall once I parked my motorbike but well worth seeing. As per usual, I just hiked in my flip flops, which shows how easy it is to get to the beautiful waterfall.
Before driving back, I motorbiked back into Pai to grab some lunch, which was harder than I thought. I just wanted cheap Thai food, am i asking too much? The drive back to Chiang Mai was worst than IMG_20150801_114605going as there were more hairpin bend and the weather was awful with it bucketing down with rain like standing under a tap. Luckily, I had my trusty 7/11 raincoat to keep me and my backpack dry. I stopped off at a coffee shop for a break and a delicious latte, where she also gave me a pot of tea on the side. I’m starting to get use to the fact that you order something then something else comes with it.

IMG_20150801_112129Finally, I arrived at the hostel, where they was shocked that I drove from Pai. They thought I was Ba (crazy in Thai). In the evening, I walked around the Saturday Walking Street, full of stall with food and souvenirs and street performers. I didn’t stay here long as there were mountains of people and I didn’t want to fight through the crowds. However, I did treat myself to a chocolate waffle, which was so good, before turning myself to bed.

The last day of my trip, I kept the motorbike to see two major tourist attractions: Wat Prathat Doi Suthep and Chaing Mai’s Canyon. They were both total worth visiting, giving amazing pictures.IMG_20150802_124402 The Canyon, however, is not known by many travellers so was empty, which meant better photos for me. I met a lovely lady there from Malaysia and we sat chatting there for a while. On the way to the temple, which is a twisty uphill slope, there were many people riding bicycles. i take my hat off to them as I would not want to do this. It was a mission.
While parking, I managed to drop my bike, not damaging it but giving myself a large bruise and  feeling embarrassed by the people around me.  IMG_20150802_102109

It started raining again. I rode around trying to find a place for lunch. I found a small, cute place, which had incredible food. I don’t know the name of the restaurant as it was all in Thai and I’m not sure I would be able to find it if I was up there again but I had a delicious fried fish and vegetables in a sweet and sour sauce with rice. IMG_20150802_091359

Once I dropped my motorbike without any hassle, I hopped on a songtaew to the bus terminal so I could embark on a long overnight bus back to Bangkok, where I was teaching the following morning.

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