We left for Pai at around 8:30am on November 7th where I had booked Marita, Charlotte, Eline and I a bed at the popular hostel called Spicy Pai. We took a mini bus which drove up a windy road for about 4 hours until we reached our destination. It was a gorgeous scenic route up through the mountains and reminded me a lot of the drive from Vancouver to Whistler minus the ocean.
When we finally got to Pai and checked into our hostel we met a Canadian guy who told us about a pool hangout that was right up the street from Spicy Pai. We had a very busy past couple of days and were excited to chill out for a bit and cool off in the pool so we made our way over right away. We hasn't eaten lunch yet so the pool was also a restaurant which served delicious fresh wraps and sandwiches. Those of you who know me well know that I am a sucker for a good wrap and sandwich. The food was really good and pretty cheap considering it was western food. We spent the whole afternoon lounging by the pool, swimming and having some serious girl talks. It was refreshing to have such conversations with girls I had just met but felt like I'd know for years. The four of us got along really well and had a great day with many many laughs. It was funny to see how much the dynamic of conversations changed when it was just the four of us once the one boy we were with was gone. We all agreed on wanting to go out that night and decided to order a cocktail and get the night started early. We finished our drinks and then headed into town to get some dinner, money from the atm and some beers to drink before we headed to the bar later that evening.
There is a little night market in the center of Pai which runs every night so we walked around the market and did a bit of shopping before grabbing dinner. After dinner we all headed back to spicy where we found the rest of the people staying at the dorm drinking in the common hangout area. We were a little intimidated at first as everyone seemed to be super drunk already and we were completely sober and didn't know anyone. We were soon asked if we wanted to join in on a drinking game which never ended up continuing but we were able to meet the rest of the spicy Pai crew. After a couple drinks everyone from the hostel headed out to the bar. We first stopped at Buffalo Bar which was really chill with a live band playing and things started to get messy pretty quickly. The four of us were down for a good time and that it was. Eline had been sick for almost a week and it was her first time drinking with us so it was nice to see that drunken side of her come out for once since she'd been watching us party all week long. After buffalo bar we headed down the street to Don't Cry which was also a really cool chill bar with fire pits to sit around. We met a lot of people that night but seemed to have the most fun when it was the four of us together for some reason. It ended up being a pretty late night but we headed back to spicy to get some sleep since Eline and I were planning on adventuring in Pai the next day.
I woke up the next morning feeling surprisingly great which was good because I wanted to rent a bike and explore more of Pai. Eline was also feeling good so we both rented a motorbike, grabbed some lunch and then headed off on our bikes to see more of Pai. We got a good route which was recommended by one of the guys working at our hostel and were able to see a lot in just one day. We saw a temple but didn't go in as it was too hot to dress appropriately enough to actually go in. Then we went to the hot springs which was a pretty big let down because it was already so hot outside and sitting in a natural hot bath wasn't all the appealing to us. We spent about 20 minutes there trying to enjoy the hot mineral water but needed to get back in our bikes as it was much cooler with the wind blowing past. We then came to a historical WW2 bridge where we took some pictures and the crossed over to continue driving towards the Pai Canyon. This was probably my favourite site of the day because it was absolutely beautiful. Pictures do it no justice but we were both amazed at the natural beauty of the canyon and the peacefulness we felt just from being there. We had about half an hour until the sunset so we decided to keep going and try to make it to a famous coffee shop called Coffee in Love which overlooks the mountains to catch the sunset. The view was amazing and we caught the sunset just in time. We then had to head back to Spicy Pai and couldn't make it to the waterfall we were hoping to see as it was too dark at that point. We were both pretty okay with it because we'd been chasing waterfalls in Chiang Mai and knew there will be plenty more to see in Laos. It was amazing how hot it was during the day and how cool it go at night. I was wearing a cardigan and still freezing. I'm curious to know what the temperature actually was because I reckon it isn't as cold as we all thought and I've just been so used to the heat that the slightest bit of drop in temperature seemed like it was Cananda cold.
We got back from our exciting day and met up with the other two girls for dinner. Mariya who was also on our trek and stayed at Kikie's arrived to Chiang Mai that day and wanted to join us for dinner. She had her mind set on partying but the rest of us as well as the rest of the Spicy Pai crew were not after the night we had just had. We had a nice dinner and just wanted to chill so we decided to go watch the band at Buffalo Bar so Mariya could have a couple drinks and the rest of us could just chill and join her while watching the band.
The next day Elise and I were leaving to come back to Chiang Mai at 3:30pm. We still had our motorbikes until noon so we drove into town for breakfast. We were both starving and ended up on settling for a close spot which served breakfast, shawarmas and falafels. I ordered a shawarma and it was probably the best I have ever had. It was a good find and I was glad we decided to eat there. I felt a little bad bit eating Thai food since my time here is running out but it was so good that I was ok with our decision to eat there. After our breakfast which really ended up being lunch we headed back to Spicy to pack our backpacks and checkout. We had a couple hours until we had to catch our bus so we headed back to the pool to swim and tan until we had to leave.
I really loved Pai and was sad I couldn't of spent more time there but at the same time I was happy I got to go and see what it was about. I reckon, if I had stayed even just one more night I would have completely fallen in love with the place and would of have a much harder time leaving Pai and even Thailand in general.
Just before leaving when we got back from the pool I started to feel very light headed and a little sick to my stomach. I think I was just a little delirious from spending so much time in the sun and maybe didn't drink enough water. I bought two large bottles and drank them both before getting on the bus. I was worried about being sick for the driving because it is a very windy road back to Chiang Mai and I wasn't sure how well my stomach would be able to handle it. I managed to eat some crackers and drank all that water and started to feel much better within half an hour into our trip back. Eline and I spent the ride back to Chiang Mai talking about our new journey, going separate ways and the ups and downs of travelling solo. The two of us became really close and it would of been easy for both of us to book the same slow boat and continue our journey together and stay within a comfort zone in which we developed very quickly. We both agreed that it was best for us to say see you later and not goodbye but still go our own separate ways because that's what travelling alone is all about. Putting yourself out of your comfort zone and opening yourself up to new experiences everyday. I'm excited to see what the next few days will bring and if worse comes to worse I know I have friends in Laos who I can fall back on.
When we made it back to Chiang Mai we were starving and just wanted to get to Kikie's as quick as possible, drop off our bags and head to the night markets for some delicious local eats. I love the night markets in Chiang Mai and you can eat like a king for only a dollar or two which is always a plus. We got dropped off at The Pae Gate which wasn't too far from Kikie's so we decided to walk and then just take a tuk tuk to the market so we could eat as soon as possible. For some reason we both had a very hard time navigating around Chiang Mai, mostly because we were always with James who would lead the way. We got general directions to Kikie's and were virtually there before we decided to ask someone else where it was because we knew we were close. We got pointed in the total opposite direction and ended up walking around aimlessly for about an hour being told mixed things everywhere we went. The locals were playing tricks on us and we fell for them instead of trusting our instinct when we knew we were so close. We ended up caving and getting in a tuk tuk and found out we were literally a two minute walk away from Kikie's when we asked for directions the first time around. It was super frustrating but we made it and were sooooo hungry at that point we wanted to eat everything. We ran into a Korean boy who was staying at Kikie's who we had met before going to Pai who told us about a local food market which was just past the Night Bazaar market so we decided we would head there first since he said there was so much amazing food and everything was really cheap. We took a tuk tuk but got dropped off at the Night Bazaar instead so we had to walk through the market and down the street until we finally arrived to what we thought was heaven. There were a ton of little market food stalls and food carts serving delicious authentic Thai dishes. We were basically the only foreigners there and the vendors couldn't speak much English. We bought a ton of food, just choosing whatever we thought looked good, not knowing what we were about to eat. We spent 60 baht ($2) in total and got some fish, fried vegetables, prawns and a few things that just looked good as well as a spicy dipping sauce. They would put everything in little plastic bags which they use for takeout and the Thais will then take home to feed their families. Seeing as we were so hungry and didn't have any plates or cutlery, we found a curb to sit on and ate with our hands. We felt like locals. After devouring our first course we went back through the market and got soup and papaya salad because we were still hungry and everything was so cheap. The food was amazing and it we probably one of my best night market experiences because it was so authentic. After our little feast we headed back to the night bazaar to do a little shopping as we both wanted to get a souvenir shirt. I wanted to buy a Chang tank top and was finally able to find one that I liked and that fit well and was only 120baht ($4). We browses around and bought a couple other little things and then finished the night off with banana pancakes. Unfortunately James was already gone to Laos because I know he would of appreciated the fact that we found and ate banana pancakes in Chiang Mai after our hour long mission to find some a few nights ago.
It was Eline's last night so I sad my farewell this morning and am now back on my own. I still cannot believe how long I have been here and how fast the time has gone. I found out from my mom this morning that I am able to change my flight so she is in the process of helping me do so. I now have one more month and will not be home for Christmas or New Years. I want to apologize to all my friends and family who were expecting me home for the holidays but I am not ready to come home anytime soon and there is still so much I want to see and do. If I had more moment I think I would even stay longer but I know financially an extra month will be a smarter decision. I am having the time of my life and have never been so happy so I am hoping you can all understand. It feels good to know I have more time now.
I spent my last day in Thailand exploring Chiang Mai on my own. I was pretty tired but managed to rent a motorbike and bike around the old city. I tried to find a park which I saw on the map but ended up biking past it without noticing it some how and had ridden in a full circle. At that point I was too tired to go back and try and find it so I headed back to Kikie's. I had one of the best meals ever at lunch when I went to a little market with the Korean boy. He told me about a dish called Khao Soi which is a spicy red curry soup with egg noodles and chicken. Eline had this our first night here and it looked really good but I had not yet tried it. He took me to a really good vendor and watched me eat the magnificent creation since he had just eaten about an hour ago but wanted to share his gem of a find. We spent the whole time mostly talking about food. I was sad I hadn't tried this Northern Thai dish earlier when I first got to Chiang Mai because I think it is now my new favourite. I could of eaten it everyday and now I have to leave tomorrow. I'm glad I got to experience it before leaving though. After we ate we walked around the market and I saw a stall that was selling Thai herbs and spices so I asked her what spices they use for that dish and bough a packet so I can try and make it at home.
Tonight I just went to the Saturday night market for about an hour but didn't buy anything except for some thai sushi and a coconut for dinner. Tomorrow I am off to Laos and am so excited to see what the new chapter of my journey will be like. I've been hearing a lot of great things about Laos and the local people and I'm sure I will love it. I will be travelling for three days. Taking a bus to the border tomorrow where I will stay at a guesthouse overnight while my visa gets sorted out and then cross the border the next morning. From there I will take a slow boat which goes down the Mekong River for 8 hours and then stop to sleep at another guesthouse overnight before getting back on board for another 8 hours until arriving to Luang Prabang. I do not know where I am staying yet because I think it will be better to find something when I get there or even hopefully meet some people and find somewhere to stay together like what happened in Chiang Mai. I can also always message Eline if I don't make some friends and can see where she is staying. I probably won't have wifi for most of the time but will update my blog once I am settled in Luang Prabang. I haven't done as much research for Laos as I did for Thailand before leaving so I don't know what to expect as much. Mostly just know what I've heard from fellow travellers and a bit of what I've read in my guesthouse. It is all very exciting! I am off to bed now as I am exhausted and have a long few days ahead of me.