The last time I went white water rafting was way back about two years ago in Peru, and it set the bar pretty high. So assuringly, I was pretty pumped for this rafting trip in Pai, especially since it would last for two days and would include waterfalls, hot springs, and camping out in the jungle! Kevin, Björn, and I were anxious and ready, especially those two because they’ve never been white water rafting before. They were in for a real treat!
The company we booked with, Rafting Adventures, picked us up from our bungalows and took us a few kilometers to their information center. There we had a small breakfast, fitted into our gear, and received instructions and guidelines for the impending course. Now all we had to do was drive about 45 minutes through Pai to the start of the Pai river. I took a motion tablet prior because the roads in Pai are ridiculous! But I turned up fine and we made it to the start of the river.
Our guide on our raft, I forget his name, let us know that the first hour of being on the water was going to be relaxed and calm. He was a local that spoke very very very little English and didn’t wear a life jacket nor a helmet. In the process of the slow ascent up the river, I got talking to the Kevin and Björn about typical German and American phrases and slangs. I taught them a few phrases and things we do in America, like how to play “That’s What She Said”. It was kind of hard to explain at first but they understood eventually, although they would say “That’s What She Said” at times where it wouldn’t make any sense! I taught them a few other useless lingo, including what a “muffin top” was, which they found hilarious! It was this general back and forth of trading our respective countries jargon and typical phrases that passed the time, and finally we arrived to the real chunks of the rapids.
There was six of us in our raft altogether, and we were naturals as we roughed through the swirls of chaos going on in the river. But, at one point we collided into a massive boulder and ended up flipping our raft over! Everyone resurfaced fine, except for Kevin who was trapped underneath the raft for a few seconds! No worries though, he made it out just fine. What was amusing was that every time we were in danger of flipping over or rafting through a rough situation, our guide would shout “Oh my Buddha!”. Or whenever any of us did anything funny, like get sloshed in the face or almost fall over the sides of the raft, he would say “Oh my Buddha!” and laugh at us. He made the rafting more enjoyable than what it already was, even if his English wasn’t so great. Even more enjoyable for me when he guided us to a spot along the river where we could all eat lunch. It consisted of sticky rice, veggies, and fruit. It got the job done. Afterwards, we rafted to a waterfall that we were able to slide down. The force of the waterfall was so powerful, that if you sat underneath it, it felt like a legit massage on your neck and back.
After a couple more hours of surging through the rapids, we arrived to our camping grounds for the night in the middle of the jungle. It was so cool! Maybe about seven stretched out bamboo huts with thin mattresses, each draped with a mosquito net. It was run by a local family who prepared us a monstrous meal around dinner time. Just like many of the meals I have had here in Thailand so far, it was extraordinary. It was around 6pm and I was knackered. I could use a nap. My thought was to just take a nap for about an hour and then hangout with everyone at night. Kevin and Björn had the same idea, so we went to our huts and passed out. I woke up around 8pm to thunder and thrashing rain in complete pitch darkness. I laid there, opened my eyes, and couldn’t see anything whatsoever! I couldn’t even tell if the others were next to me or not. All I could hear was the crazy storm happening right outside. With that, I decided to just fall back asleep.
The next morning, the sounds of critters and giant bugs I’ve never seen woke me up. Speaking of bugs, the buggies here in Thailand, specifically Pai, are ginormous! Flying cockroaches, huge red millipedes, shiny teal beetles that just chill on your shoulders. Thats not even all. On our way back to rafting, we would find monster spiders in our raft near our legs and feet. When we put the spiders in the water with our paddles, the spider literally walked on top of the water and back into our raft! We just dealt with it and welcomed the creepy crawlies into our boat. As long as what was actually in the river didn’t get us. I’m talking venomous snakes and wild buffalo that were just chilling along side the river. We saw a snake or two swimming in the same river that we fell in, with it’s head above water, gliding from one side to the other. Macau monkeys were swinging in the trees overlooking the river, and colorful birds that I’ve never seen before would consistently fly around us. I LOVE the atmosphere of dense jungles so this was a dream come true. To top it off, was the cliff that we were able to jump off! I was worried about my neck, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The cliff was somewhere between 9-11 meters. Let’s just say 11 for bragging rights. All three of us made the leap into the snake laden water!
After a few more rapids, some almost flipping us over, we were able to jump in the river and float down it for a couple of kilometers. Mind you, none of us knew there were venomous snakes in the water at this time, our guide told us AFTER we saw our first snake a bit further down. After few more hours of rapids, we made it to the ending point where we were greeted by another storm. We chilled here for a bit and ate some snacks which were…out of the ordinary. This little shack had lobster flavored chips and salmon flavored chips too. I tasted the lobster ones and they are probably the grossest chips I’ve ever eaten in my life. If I ate a whole bag I would of surely vomited on the spot. Björn liked them. Crazy German! 🙂
The drive back to our spot in Pai was terrible. I had to stop and get out of the car a couple of times to refrain from vomiting. So far from where I’ve been in Asia, Pai has the worst roads for motion sickness. They aren’t bumpy, they’re actually quite smooth, it’s just constant curves and hills. It’s always a big thing for me when I finish a long journey overland or overwater back to my hostel, because really guys, the queasiness sucks a whole lot. Kevin and Björn were absolutely fine. I wish I had their stomachs of steel!
I had to rest up once we got back to Giants, but soon enough we got some grub! I saw there was a German themed restaurant on the opposite side of town, and after all the local foods the guys have been telling me they have in Germany, we decided to go there. I ordered traditional sauerkraut, some kind of German bread and potatoes. Kevin had schnitzel and I don’t remember what Björn had exactly. They said this sauerkraut would be better if there were things added to it like sausage, onions, and spices. I couldn’t have agreed more, as I wasn’t crazy about the kraut, but the bread and potatoes were pretty good.
On the way back to Giants, a girl stopped us and asked us if we knew of any place that had vacancy. Apparently, she just got dropped off here from the bus and hadn’t booked a stay anywhere yet. We let her know that Giants still had vacancy and she could follow us there since we were on our way already. Her name is Viola (Netherlands). She’s been traveling on her own and is going to go down south through Thailand, pretty much the same route that I am on. We adopted her into our group, as we had a fun filled day with motorbiking through Pai ahead of us.