Yesterday was spent exploring the areas to the north and west of Pai, so today was going to be all about the south and east. But not before we purchased our Christmas hats, it is the 25th after all.
Heading south out of town the first place we stopped at was Coffee in Love. A quite substantial coffee shop situated on a hill over looking the Pai valley, an amazing place to chill out and have a cuppa. Our plan was to relax and get a cup of hot chocolate, but they were not very cheap and the budget could not stretch so we just took some nice photos and was on our way. We are not sure why this particular watering hole gets so much attention, yes it has the amazing views, but there are several other places, literally next door that offer the same view for half the price. Much later in the day we stopped off at The Container and watched the sun set on ceiling hung pod chairs sipping our hot chocolate that was a fraction of the price!
The next stop was full of some very interesting history, the World War II Bridge. In WWII the Japanese invaded northern Thailand so they could attack Burma (at the time a UK settlement). The Japanese forced the local people of Chaing Mai to start building a road north, and the people in the area of Pai to start building south and to create a bridge over the Pai River. When the Japanese were defeated and fled Thailand they burnt the bridge causing major inconvenience to the local people whose trade had become reliant upon it. The villages all came together and help rebuild the bridge only to have mother nature tear it back down during a horrific flood. The people of Pai pleaded with Chiang Mai and were kindly given the Nawarat Steel Bridge that sits there to this day.
Once we was fully up to date on the history and had taken a photo from every angle we sat down to enjoy a drink before heading off. This is when we saw a young couple, obviously tourists, get on a scooter and then proceed to smashing in to the side of a parked van. The van didn’t appear damaged but the owner had to rip the keys out off the bike as they tried to do a runner. The bikes are not insured here so that would have cost the driver dearly!
Southern Pai has many different hot springs that you can visit but the best are about £6 to enter and the cheap ones are used by locals to wash. Having been so some very nice hot springs in Colorado we decided to just check them out to see if there was anything to see without paying. We pulled up and there was a hot spring outside the gates but it was very small and not one you could bathe in, it was three tiers and the bottom one you could just about dip your hand in for a second before it burnt. We do hear very good things about the hot springs so it’s probably well worth going if you have not experienced them before. Bring your eggs though as apparently they’ll encourage you to cook up some boiled eggs as part of the experience.
Aboard the moped, we found a great dirt road that took us through all the farm land, it was great to get up close to the farmers and see how they work the land. This is something that was a real highlight, it was a really true Pai experience, there was no tourists, no 7 elevens, nothing but the locals and the land, amazing. This route actually worked to our advantage as we got spat out right next to Oia Village, which was just a bit weird! It had a very strange atmosphere, we were the only ones there and it just reminded me of the old TV series the prisoner, it’s the only way I can describe it. We did a full loop not seeing a sole and then left before this turned in to a scene from a horror movie, the place gave me the creeps but I am sure it would feel totally different if there were people there!
Oia Village is very close to Wat Phra That Mae Yen so this was the logical next stop. Also called the Temple on the Hill, Wat Phra That Mae Yen is a very large white Buddha located half way up a hill that can be seen from all around Pai. I think this place is somewhat still under construction, the toilets look brand new and there was hoards of workers still building half of the main steps. Its well worth visiting as it completely free and has some nice views after the cardio workout getting to the top.
As the Buddha is very close to town we headed back to get some lunch and possibly found one of the cheapest places to eat yet, we both had a hot meal and bottle of water for £1.70. This is one huge benefit of renting a bike, you can get out of the main tourist areas and find the local restaurants. The savings can sometimes pay for the bike! Whilst eating we realised we had missed one of the waterfalls and the “Land Split”. This was actually quite good because if gave us something to do once we had finished eating and I really wanted to go swimming at a waterfall on Christmas day.
Pam Bok Waterfall is really easy to get to and offers a good pool to swim in but be warned, it is absolutely freezing and no sun gets down in to the canyon! If you want a nice warm place to swim with natural waterslides Mo Paeng is the place to go! I met a guy called Brent from California there and he was telling me how he has been travelling for 7 years, gave me heaps of amazing travel advice then proceeded to tell me how he is panning to launch 3 companies all at once, this guy was awesome so we swapped emails and will definitely be keeping in touch.
Even with all of Brent’s travel knowledge he didn’t know where we could get a traditional Christmas dinner tonight, so our chances were looking slim. We ended up at a steak house both having pies. There was beef, gravy, pastry (read Yorkshires) and we ordered chips so we had potatoes. Basically a Christmas dinner, even if it was not the best, it’ll be one we never forget!