After our stay at Chai Lai Orchid, we returned to the same guest house in Chiang Mai (Awana House). It felt great to return to a place that was familiar. It was like coming home!
The following day we caught a mini bus to Pai – a town 3 1/2 hours outside of Chiang Mai. We had heard great things about Pai, which is why we decided to brave the 754 hair pin turns up the mountain to visit it. Caleb was not at all keen on the journey – having been the one to get sick the most on our previous bus adventures. Sure enough, he was sick twice going up the mountains and reminded me that, “This had better be a pretty amazing place!”
We were staying just a little way out of town and we were all surprised when we started walking there just how hot it was in Pai. I had thought, given that we had climbed up the mountains for 3 1/2 hours, that it would be slightly cooler than Chiang Mai, but no! In fact, we all thought it was even warmer! Needless to say walking a couple of km to our guest house in the melting sun was not much fun!
Once we settled in to our guest house we rented scooters and headed back to town for some dinner. The was the first time I had ridden a scooter and I was not very good at it! I guess I expected it to ride like a bicycle but a 250 lb scooter feels very different from a bike! It didn’t help that it started to pour rain as we were driving. Connor sat behind me and was incredibly supportive. He kept saying, “Mommy, I think you’ve got it! You’re really good whenever there is a straight stretch!” We headed down the main stretch in town where the night market had started, so it began to get rather busy. People were wandering the streets, it was dark, and wet. I was not feeling very confident on my scooter and then someone stepped out in front of us! I managed to avoid them but headed for another couple at the side of the road. We hit her arm and she dropped her cell phone. Connor and I stopped and I did my best to apologize but they didn’t speak English. They did not look at all happy – which was understandable, considering they were just walking along minding their own business, when they got struck in the arm by our scooter. After attempting to apologize, I didn’t know what else to do, so we continued on, VERY SLOWLY!
The following day we took the scooters out again, but I was so worried that I might run into someone that after 10 minutes I asked Clay to return them. Not only was I not very good at driving the scooter, but we wanted to visit the hot springs and the Pai Canyon, both of which were about 8 km, in different directions from the town. And, you had to drive around the same windy road that we had travelled on to get to Pai, which meant you were constantly being passed by buses and other traffic. I thought this was an accident just waiting to happen.
Off we headed to the hot springs, with our driver! I’m so glad we didn’t try to drive ourselves. The hot springs were located in a national park and fortunately when we arrived there was only one other couple there. The water was pleasantly warm and we spent an hour enjoying the surroundings.
After the hot springs we headed in the opposite direction to the Pai Canyon. This unique geographical area has been eroded away over many years and is now full of narrow ledges snaking out into the densely forested valley. There is nothing in the way of safety bars but you are free to venture as far afield into the canyon as you dare! But with a 30 metre plus drop on either side we had to be careful where we stepped.
The following day, it was back on the bus to Chiang Mai. All in all, Pai was very beautiful but we weren’t sure that our 2 night visit was worth the 7 hour nausea-inducing bus ride!