Pai can best be described as "the Byron Bay of Thailand". Much like that beautiful and famous town on Australia's east coast, Pai is the biggest hippie retreat in Thailand, and hence is one of the most chilled-out places in the whole country. Situated north-west of Chiang Mai — deep in the mountainous jungle of Thailand's north — Pai is well-known for its music scene, for its motor-bike riding, and for the river-rafting and trekking opportunities that the surrounding forests offer. Fortunately, Pai hasn't yet been completely overrun by high-end resorts and by rich yuppies — it's 5 or 10 years behind Byron in that regard — but it's certainly on its way. As with all visitors to the town, I stayed in Pai longer than intended — and I didn't regret it one little bit.
Grilled rice pancake was one of the many delicious, fresh-cooked street snacks that I discovered at the Pai night market this evening. Its appearance is not so appetising: it's black and flat and slimy, and it looks not unlike what I imagine a female uterus would appear like (when grilled). But don't be deterred by this: the pancake is sweet and chewy, and it's divine. Best eaten fresh off the coals, in no more than 5 bites and gulps.
These two Dutch boys were part of the super-friendly crew that kept me company, during this morning's road trip to Pai. They're two guys who are friends from back home, and who are taking a little summer break in-between their studies. For most of my time here in Pai, I kept bumping into them again and again: and each time that I saw them, both myself and them were ever more wasted.
Marie and Claire are two girls that I met on the bus to Pai this morning, and they're two great examples of encounters that you can't help but feel have something to do with fate. They're also both travelling alone; and like myself, neither of them has any particular plans for what they want to do here in Pai (apart from hanging out and seeing what all the fuss is about). Marie's a real estate agent from England, and Claire's a marketing manager from the USA. I ended up hanging out, riding bikes, and drinking a few nights away with these great ladies — when I think of Pai, I'll think of them.
After only one night here (after getting back from the Doi Inthanon trek), this morning I said goodbye once more to Chiang Mai, and jumped on a minibus to the town of Pai. Pai's about 3 hours north-west of Chiang Mai — as the bus crawls — and it's a chilled-out place where everyone goes to relax, to find inner peace, and to meet the friendly crowd. I got picked up from my guesthouse at 9:30am, and it was a very chatty crew that we had for the morning road trip. As well as Marie and Claire (with whom I hung out almost the entire time that I was here), I also met the two Dutch guys, a vegan Aussie couple, and an older Israeli couple. By the time we arrived in Pai, I realised that I already had myself sorted — ridiculous how easily we travellers magnetise to each other, at times.