Well as expected, I completely fell in love with Pai – I had no clue I would fall so hard though. The second I stepped off the bus into Pai, I was overcome with an incredible sensation. The only way I can think to describe it is that is was like a homecoming for my soul. This place felt instantly familiar and comforting. Perhaps I’ve lived in Pai in another lifetime.
The vibe of Pai is awesome – so laid back and chill. A quaint little hippie town with cute coffee shops, cafes and boutiques selling tie dye everything. As I strolled down the street to my hostel, I couldn’t help but have the biggest grin on my face.
I arrived at my hostel, Purple Monkey, extreme backpacker vibes here – brightly colored buildings with murals on them, a lively little bar, a hammock loft area, a basketball court and a pool -I was digging it. I was shown to my room, a 6 person dorm with 5 dudes already inhabiting it – maybe they mistook my name for Colin? While New Girl makes living with all guys look a lot more charming than it actually is – I have to say I really enjoyed my new buds from dorm F.
I hit the town and stumbled upon the most adorable cafe, OM Garden Cafe. This place was right up my alley. A little cafe built into a charming garden, with amazing fresh food. I posted up there for a while to catch up on journaling and reading.
After some mandatory hammock chilling, I was invited to ride up to the canyon to watch the sunset. Having only ridden a motorbike around the block in Chiang Mai, I was a little nervous about my riding skills, but I thought, fake it till you make it. Confidence is half the battle anyway, right? Turns out riding out here is a breeze – also a lot of fun.
The Pai Canyon was incredible, absolutely spectacular view of the mountains and countryside. Pictures just didn’t do it justice. I kept trying to capture the lushness of the fields, the depth of the mountains and the heavenly glow of the sky – but it proved to be impossible. While the sun was setting over the mountains, it literally looked like the heavens were opening up. It was incredible – very humbling.
There is a cute little night market every night on the main walking sheet. Great and super cheap street food. I had kabobs the first night, a Japanese pancake, okonomiyak, and pad thai the second night and chicken fried rice the last night.
The highly revered and beloved king of Thailand, passed away my first night in Pai. The country immediately went into a state of mourning, that is supposed to last for at least 30 days. Bars were shut down and alcohol was not supposed to be sold. I was a little bummed I didn’t get to experience Pai nightlife, but for the most part I was okay with chilling at the hostel – it was still pretty lively there and our bar was definitely still serving it up.
My second day in Pai was spent tucked away in the oasis of Om Garden, exploring the town, checking out this ridiculously charming strawberry farm and more time up at the canyon. I read and did a meditation as the sun was setting. It started to shower a little but the sky was still so clear and sunny – it was truly beautiful.
On my third day in Pai, I went up to a near by waterfall – Pombok waterfall, with a new friend. It was a beautiful ride up there and the waterfall was super refreshing after the drive. We ventured a little farther to see this bamboo bridge that was built over a rice field. It was mesmerizing to walk on, and the field was the greenest field I’ve ever seen and I’ve traveled through almost all of Ireland aka the “Emerald Island”.
My last day in Pai was spent relaxing in these colorful egg-shaped swinging chairs that over looked the countryside at this quirky little place, The Container. Followed that up with a delicious lunch of pineapple rice at the incredibly charming Cafe d’Tist. I relaxed there for a little and then decided to kick up the relaxation vibe and went to go get a thai massage. Five bucks for an hour – incredible. They don’t ask your pressure preference and the status quo seems to be extreme deep tissue. It was quite intense at times but she did this crazy thing to my scalp that slipped me in a very chilled out state. It did feel good to get worked on after a few nights of sleeping on basically concrete (hostel beds are less than desirable). Then I squeezed in a little more hammock chilling in while I wrote this post, before I caught my bus back to Chiang Mai for the night.
I met some really cool people at this hostel – from all different backgrounds and on various paths that have happened to intersect for this brief moment in time. You’ve got novice travelers who just started their journey a week ago (including myself) to perpetual wanderers who have been on the road for over 3 years, and everything in between. Everyone has their own unique stories – some good, some bad, routes they’ve taken and favorite destinations. But everyone has a common thread that bonds us – wanderlust. I’ve found that for the most part people are quick to open up and make connections while traveling – it’s very comforting and refreshing. Makes life as a solo traveller easier.
I’m definitely leaving a piece of my heart in Pai. It’s funny to think how much of an impact a place can have on you in such a short period of time, but a place like Pai will do that to you. I’m sad to leave here, I could easily post up here for months. But who knows, maybe I’ll find my way back here… Off to Laos tomorrow – trading in my Bahts for Kips ($$). A new country and new adventures to be had.