Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pai & Beyond

The night before we were to do the visa run, we went out to dinner and found a fabulous place! It’s called the Curry Shack and it’s literally attached to the people’s house with a corrugated tin roof (it’s literally a shack). But the food is amazing! It was the best curry we have had so far. The owner started asking us where are we from and when we told him from Toronto, he said his sister runs a restaurant on Parliament street. We promised him we would go visit her once we got back. Of course we asked if she’s as good a cook as he is, and with a wicked smile he said “Noooo”.

We woke up at 4:30am so we could catch the bus at 5:30am to do the visa run. We were travelling from Pai to a border town with Myanmar. The bus was actually a large minivan, and it was pack full with 13 people. The trip from Pai to the border took around 8 hours as they forgot someone at one point and we had to turn around and go back. We crossed the border with no problems, after paying around $30 to get into Myanmar. We walked around for a bit and then turned right back around as we only had an hour for the whole process and to meet the bus. On re-entry into Thailand we received a 15 day visa. The trip back ended up taking another 8 hours as well as once we got back to Chiang Mai, we had to wait for a bus to take us back to Pai. The whole trip took around 16 hours and again we were exhausted.

The next day we decided to check out the hot springs as the area around Pai is known for them. We brought our bathing suits and towels and made our way over to the National Park. We paid the 200BHT to get in and went to the hot springs ready for a dip. We had waited until 4pm so it wouldn’t be so hot outside. Once we got there we saw some people sitting around a shallow pond, but we weren’t seeing the large pools we were imagining. We kept going further and found people cooking their eggs in the hot springs. Apparently the park sells some eggs in a plastic bag with a stick and the water is so hot it cooks the eggs. It turned out there were no large pools for us to soak in, just the shallow ponds we had seen earlier where we could dip our legs into, which we did. The water was quite hot and after a while I was sweating. After about a half hour we were done so we headed back home. We didn’t cook any eggs.
That night, as Andrew described in his post, we went to watch the F1 race.

The following day we drove around exploring the area a little more. We went to a scenic view point which was on top of one of the mountains, and had a fabulous view. Andrew took some great pictures so we’ll post those when we can. (As a side note, we have started posting our photos on facebook as it’s a little easier, so if you would like to see them, feel free to add us as friends). After that we went to see a waterfall in the area. The waterfall wasn’t too big, but there were a bunchof large rocks and it made it look really nice. While there, there were a bunch of guys who had their swimming trunks on and started using the rocks as a slide. Andrew was standing taking some pics and after some prodding from me, decided to join them. I think Andrew should describe his experience, but it more or less goes like this:
- The water at the bottom of this “slide” is maybe a foot deep
- There are a lot of rocks, big and small, in that foot of water
- The water is very cold as it’s coming from the mountains
- The “trick” is to slide down and make yourself very flat so as to avoid hitting any rocks at the bottom (the legs first approach is out of the question)
- After one slide, Andrew decided he would not do it again. He landed on his ass and proceeded to show me his ass in front of everyone to check if he had a bruise. He didn't have one that day, but it did develop the next day. Nice and purple.

And that was the waterfall experience.
The next day, as Andrew already described, we rented a couple of bikes and completed the 762 turns, times 2 (there and back). It was a lot of fun, however the confidence Andrew claims I felt, was not always as strong as he would lead you to believe. Yes it was fun. But there were also moments which were scary. Like when I would go into a turn too fast and be afraid that I wouldn’t make it out. Over all however it was a lot of fun. I didn’t realize however how tired I would be at the end of the day. After 4 or 5 hours of riding, I was pooped. We stopped for coffee at “Coffee in Love” and headed back home for dinner.

The next day we were heading back to Chiang Mai to start the trip towards the Laos border. We went to the bus station to catch the 2pm bus. People kept coming asking us if we’re taking their minivan back to Chiang Mai and we kept saying, no, we’re taking the 2pm “Big Bus”. The main difference is really comfort and price. The “Big Bus” is the local bus which costs half the price and the seats are half as spacious as that on the airplane. The minivan of course is a lot roomier, but we didn’t want to spend the money. Around 2:20 we were getting worried about the bus being late. Andrew went to inquire at the counter and it turns out the 2pm bus was not coming today. Everyone we talked failed to mention that! So we had to spend $5 each, which as I said was double than we had budgeted.
We arrived in Chiang Mai after a 4 hour bus ride back from Pai. Checked into a guesthouse and went to grab food at an Indian restaurant. Maybe because the food was different from what we have been eating up until now, but it was a very delicious meal. We then went back to our room and watched a movie on our laptop and new speakers.

Today (Nov. 17) we caught a bus to Chiang Khong which lies on the Mekong River which is the border between Thailand and Laos. We were supposed to go to Laos tomorrow but it looks like we’ll probably spend another day here exploring the area and then go to Laos from there.


  1. Sweet, new speakers, full surround sound aye. This whole trip looks like it is getting better and better. Thanks for yet another great update.