Life of Pai, We have really wanted to see rural Thailand, so on a spur of the moment decision we set of to Pai a small provincial village/ town in the north. We took the public bus from Chang Mai which was slow and uncomfortable. Partly because the air con broke down 5 kms into the trip and none of the windows opened. The driver in the end decided to take the door off to get some air through. I had to help lift the door onto the roof rack. They would of been better leaving the door at the side of the road because it ended up falling off the roof rack in Pai into a smashed bent mess, luckily there was nobody underneath it.
On first impressions Pai itself was not what we expected. It was very crowded with lots of travellers and Thais. We were getting a bit worried about finding somewhere to stay. Unknown to us there was a Reggae/ Ska festival in Pai and we arrived on day 2. After trying a few places, I decided to dump my bag and do a broader search up the valley where the views were fantastic. Eventually we found a lovely place with good views. The only drawback was it was a bit back to basics. Made of bamboo, with just a matress and a mozzie net was not what we were expecting, but we got use to it and had the choice to move after the festival, but stayed where we were.
On our first night, we decided we had to go to the reggae festival to see what it was like, so we went on the search for transport as it was 5k out of town. It took us a while, but eventually we found a free taxi service. When we arrived it was surprisingly empty, but the band that was playing was really good. Neither of us are really into Reggae that much but started to change out opinion for a while, but the bands that followed were not that great, so we ended up spending more time outside the gates listening to a band called Woodoo who were a bit like a funk band with a Thai influence. They played digeridoo's, bongo's and loads of unusual instuments. The festival did get a bit busier, but no where near as busy as festivals at home. We had quite a bit to drink and some gorgeous bbq'd sweet potatoes and headed home around 2.00 am. The trek up the hill with a really small torch took us a while, i'm not really sure how we both managed to get to our hut without falling over!
The next morning/afternoon we had a wonder around Pai and booked an elephant ride for the next morning. We spent the rest of the day relaxing looking at the views over the valley from our hostel. It was so peaceful and just what we wanted. That night we went looking for something to eat and stumbled across a place that had just opened so were offering free food and drinks were just 39 Bhat (45p) for whatever we wanted, it was great, so again we had quite a bit to drink and Matthew wanted to go to a rock n roll club, so we went in search of it, but came across the band called Woodoo that we had really liked the night before. They were playing in the street, so we grabbed some more beers and sat in the street to listen to them. Matthew loved them ( we even bought t shirts). He got chatting to the band members and we got invited to a party, well it was more like a camp fire by the river. It was a really good experience, there were about 20 locals, a few Japanese an American guy and us two. Everyone was singing and dancing, the digeridoo's came out and we both had a go, Matthew was good at it, but i couldn't really get a sound out of it. We ran out of beer so ended up on really strong whiskey...not nice. We left there at about 4.00am and had to be up at 7.00 for the elephant ride!
After 3 hours sleep and a bit hung over we headed for our elephant ride. We were being picked up at 8.30 to be taken to an elephant camp just out of town. When we arrived they gave us the opportunity to feed the elephants before we had to climb on them. The elephants were really funny, they could kick a football, play the mouth organ and make a really loud noise to say thank you. When it was time to climb on the elephants, Matthew and i were left with the tallest one, it was impossible for us to climb up him so we had to walk onto a platform to get on him. I sat in front and Matthew behind me. I thought it was a bit uncomfortable, but thought it would get better as the ride went on. It never did, we were both really uncomfortable and at one point when the elephant was going down hill i slid forward so much that i was sat on his neck, crushing the lady that was controlling our elephant. When we got to the river we were glad to get off and rest out backsides. I decided to play with the elephant in the river, well they called it play, it was more like 'lets see how fast the elephant can throw you off its back'. It was good fun, and a really good experience to be with them in their natural environment, but Matthew felt it was more painful than riding a camel, i really enjoyed myself and sat on the elephants neck on the way back to the camp which was a lot comfier.
The rest of the day we spent sleeping/relaxing and then went for a really nice Italian and an early night as we had a long journey to cross the boarder into Laos.