After 33 hours in transit, (9 of which were on the most awesome bus so far – think air hostess with private screen and in-flight (ride?) movies) we made it to Chiang Mai where we spent a couple of days at our usual Chiang Mai bungalow to recover. We also spent an evening on the sunday walking street which still never fails to impress us with the awesome stuff you can get there.
Then we took the bus to Pai, a hippie mountain town that we’d heard a lot of people talking about since we’ve been in Asia. Chiang Mai to Pai is apparently something like 762 corners through the mountains and the drive was really beautiful.
On arrival our friend Luke from Koh Lanta met us at the bus station and took us to our little bungalow on the river and we then set about exploring the town and the abundance of awesome vegetarian restaurants there. We were really impressed by the selection and quality of western and thai food. We also spent some time riding around to see some cool views and temples, one of which had a huge 1.5m swarm of giant bees on the front.
Basically though, the town is filled with 18 year olds getting drunk and then crashing their scooters, every 4th person you meet has motorbike injuries and the bars pumping until 4am every day was not our idea of fun. (Being able to party when you want is fun but being forced to listen to loud music all night every night is not so cool.) In fact there were so many ‘alternative’ looking people in the town that we thought our photos would probably be far more entertaining if we took photos of every person we met in town… but we never got around to it.
We always have said that we never want to travel so much that a place doesn’t impress us, but also sometimes it’s hard not to compare. In a nutshell, the scenery at Luang Namtha is way more pristine and beautiful than Pai, there aren’t drunken idiots everywhere and the vibe in Pai just wasn’t for us. So although it was quite pretty and the drive to and from there was awesome, we left after the 3rd night to get some sleep! One cool bonus of leaving Pai when we did was that we got to experience our first bus breakdown. What was cool about it was that it broke down going past a huge national park where we got to hang out looking at the mountains and trees for an hour or so and saw heaps of different kinds of huge moths. It was so nice there that we considered getting our stuff and staying there a few nights, and if our Thai visa wasn’t about to run out in a few days we would have… at least now we’ve just found another awesome destination in Thailand that we can’t wait to visit properly next time. Our photos of Pai are here.