In a long day I travelled from Koh Chang to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. Here I met a great group of people and together we hit the road to see the highest point in Thailand at the Doi Inthanon National Park and we went out in the Chiang Mai nightlife. I also went to Pai for a couple of days to see what the fuzz is all about before returning to Chiang Mai.
FROM KOH CHANG TO CHIANG MAI
In Koh Chang I arranged a minivan which would take me to Bangkok in six hours where I would catch my flight to Chiang Mai. With two more people to pick up we were almost set for the drive to the ferry. Only thing was that we had to wait at least 15 minutes for these people to show up… Our driver was already getting a bit annoyed and was looking at his watch all the time. In the end a mother and her son showed up and entered the van; not a good start for them. When we got to the port we were first in line…for the next ferry. We saw the ferry we actually had to take just leaving the port. After waiting for half an hour we got on to the next ferry to Trat. About halfway we had short break of about 15 minutes and again… Mother and son took their time and were late. Normally I wouldn’t care too much but I had a flight to catch and there would still be some travelling in the Bangkok rush hour. I got dropped off at Suvarnabhumi International Airport but I had to go the smaller Don Muang Airport about one to two hours driving depending on the traffic. Luckily a free shuttle bus between the airports was standing by and I could jump aboard. In the end I made it in time to Don Muang and I boarded my flight to Chiang Mai.
My seat was all the way in the back in the last row. In the seat on the other side of the aisle sat a man who at first looked pretty normal. But then during the flight he started mumbling into himself made gestures to people and to the emergency lighting strips on the floor, stare downs at people and he also had several tics with his head and arms. On top of someone acting strange next to me, a woman in the next row fainted just before we drove up the takeoff strip. Luckily the flight attendants were quick to react and there were some nurses on board to help the woman. We all made it safely to Chiang Mai.
At the D-Well Hostel in Chiang Mai I met up with Pana (he left Koh Chang the day before I did) and an hour after arriving we went to a bar called Zoë In Yellow in the bar area of the city. Pana introduced me to a lot of people also staying at the same hostel. This was the start of our D-Well group: Taylor (Canada), Ben (UK), Marta (Spain), Pana (Germany), Ken (US), Jason (Canada), Sam (Sweden) and Shamir (UK).
A CHAT WITH MONKS
I was just hanging at the hostel with some people of the group and then Daniel (Canada) walked in. HE just arrived from Bangkok and wanted to go out for lunch. Eventually Marta, Daniel and I decided to get go to the city center to get lunch and walk around for a bit. After our Khao Soi (noodle soup from northern Thailand) we walked back towards our hostel but then we saw a big stupa/temple. Since we had nothing else to do we decided to go for it and visit the place. So this is when we visited Wat Chedi Luang one of the old temples in Chiang Mai. In the temple area were quite some monks walking around and near the stupa was a place where you could talk to the monks and ask questions to them. In return they could learn English by talking to us. We sat down and talked to a group of young monks living, studying and meditating at the temple.
THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN OF THAILAND
Two hours from Chiang Mai is the Doi Inthanon National Park containing the highest mountain of Thailand about 2565 meters above sea level. With a group of eight we rented a minivan to take us there. We were with six people from the hostel: Ben, Marta, Nicole (Australia), Jason, Shamir, me and then there were Omar and Tina (Canada) who were staying at a different place.
After the two hour drive we got out in the national park near a big waterfall and we had our lunch there.
From the waterfall we drove further upward to the entrance of the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail. Together with a guide who didn’t tell us anything we climbed up to the summit and got to see some amazing views and cloud formations passing by.
A little bit further down the mountain are two pagodas built for the king and the queen. Already from the start of the tour we really wanted to see the pagodas and we went there straight after the trail…only to find the entrance to be closed. We were too late which was a bit disappointing but luckily I was able to get some shots earlier from a viewpoint on the mountain. Once back in Chiang Mai we were quite hungry and needed food quickly so we headed out to the food bazar close to out hostel.Night market Chiang Mai.
DON’T DO METH!
On my final night in Chiang Mai before leaving to Pai we went out to the bar area and afterwards to a club called Spicy. We’ve already been there quite some times and the vibe is always kind of strange; but since there’s nothing else open we went there again. The place was packed and at one point someone bumped into Taylor. This happens all the time; but the guy who did it was acting quite strange. Luckily nothing happened we wouldn’t want to be involved in a fight based on something small. After the club closed we went down to the local McDonalds for some food and singing country songs and Wonderwall. On the way back to the hostel we had a stop at a 7-eleven to get some water but we didn’t only found water…The guy from the club was also there and he was totally gone together with his girlfriend and a Thai friend. Someone already heard at the club that they had used meth and they were not on this planet anymore it seemed. The guy recognized Taylor and said he was acting like the “top dog” and he went all insane together with the Thai guy (probably also on meth). They threw over some stacked boxes with food in it and the Thai guy grabbed his belt and was about to use it on Taylor. Luckily we had, our almost 2 meter tall, Daniel a.k.a. Papa Bear who stood in between trying to calm everyone down. The cashier called the police and somehow the three methed outs got in a taxi and they were gone. Actually during all of my trip I’ve never seen a threatening and aggressive situation like this one. Afterward we sat down at the hostel and we all had to cool down for a bit…
“Pi Pai” or translated to English “go Pai”. Almost everyone I’ve met has been to Pai, a small village about 3 hours away from Chiang Mai, and everyone also tells to go there because it’s such a nice place to go to. The ride to Pai is an intense one; at least for me it was. The first hour and a half are pretty straight forward and after a short break you continue down the windy mountain roads near the village…I don’t get motion sickness very often but this road was so curvy it got the best of me. Moving from left to right in all the curves even I felt a bit sick; I got nauseous but luckily I didn’t have to vomit or anything. My hostel was literally around the corner of the bus station so that was convenient and easy to find. I dropped my stuff and walked around town for a bit to find out what Pai is about. So basically what I found were many backpackers, western restaurants mixed with some local ones and a lot of bars with live music. From what I’ve seen and experienced Pai is a small village with somewhat of an alternative/hippie vibe in a Thai meets western lifestyle; it’s a western bubble in an otherwise traditional Thai area. The mountain landscape around Pai is beautiful but not more special than Chiang Mai for example. Pai is all about relaxing, chilling out, enjoying good food and the occasional partying at night; so that’s what I did. A great thing in Pai is the bars with open mic nights and live music; I ended up going to two places with good musicians with a mix of populair music and a blues bar. The music was really good and in a way it reminded me of home and making music myself. The high level of the musicians is something I haven’t seen that often during my trip and it was a joy to listen to them playing their music.
Besides the music and relaxing I also took some time to prepare my return to the Netherlands by looking for potential jobs, I have to register at the township again since I had to unregister before I left. So in short everything I let go when I left; I now have to register all over again.
In Pai I met up with people from the D-Well group and we had dinner and drinks together at night. On my last night I even met Jelle and Miles two Dutchies whom I’ve met in Koh Chang the week before.
Some people stick to the place for year after year and keep coming back; I think it’s a nice place to relax but I think Pai is a bit overrated. Through all the stories Pai seems like the perfect and best place to go to but I think there’s so much more to see than this town that’s in its own little bubble.
COMING UP NEXT
After a couple of days in Pai I will go back to Chiang Mai. I will stay there for some days before heading to Bangkok for the last week of this trip!