Today, the guys planned on renting motorbikes and driving all around Pai. After getting pulled over in Laos on a motorbike a few weeks ago, I wasn’t too crazy about the idea of renting one too. However, the traffic here is not as chaotic as Laos, so I decided to join them. Viola, along with her friend she met from Israel would join us also. It’s stupid cheap to rent a motorbike for 24 hours (around 200 baht). All you need is a passport to rent one.
Once we had our bikes, we filled them up with gas. I’ve noticed everyone who rents a bike has to fill it up because it is always running on just about empty. I’ve heard that the people who work at the renting companies would siphon the gas out of the bike and sell it for profit. Quite sneaky. Smart, but sneaky. If gas wasn’t so cheap here then I would mind. It only costs me about $2 to fill up a whole motorbike tank! Crazy cheap!
We received a map from the rental company of possible routes we could take. There were plenty of waterfalls, temples, mountains, and other sites to drive through, but we decided to hit up one of the waterfalls first. A plan was hatched and we set off! Go! Go! Pai means “go” by the way. As we drove, we had views of the valley that sank into the forests below. I also saw a sign for the waterfall we were looking for but we drove right past it. We ended up coming to a bridge called Miracle Bridge, and that’s when I told everyone we passed the entry point to the waterfall a while ago. So we turned around and went back. We parked our bikes and made a brief hike to the bowl of the waterfall.
After playing in the water for a bit, we went back to our town to pick up our laundry (that took three days to get washed and dried) and freshen up. Soon enough we were back on out bikes and on the road. The Israeli guy decided to stay behind this time, as he wasn’t too comfortable with riding his bike. I was way more comfortable driving here than I was in Laos. The roads weren’t as busy here. It was also easy driving through the outskirts of town with no worries of intoxicated backpackers getting in the way. Just had to look out for the tourists who never rode a bike before. Like this one Asian girl, who lives up to her stereotype, by almost ramming her bike right into Björn! And that same girl lost control of her bike, almost spilling over into oncoming traffic. It’s actually tourists and backpackers like us, who barely rode a motorbike before that make driving a bit chancy. Fortunately, Viola, Kevin, Björn, and myself all had practice prior and were able to hold our own. Our first destination was to the nearby canyon of Pai. We drove and then walked up a quick hill and carefully navigated our way around the canyon, while being mindful not to fall into the giant sinkhole in the center!
Afterwards, we decided to head back to the waterfall we went to earlier, but to drive further up the mountain. Earlier in the day there, we noticed a sign that read “Viewpoint Pai: 10km” if you kept going up. There was still a few hours left of daylight so we decided to drive up. In the process, we somehow lost Björn. We stopped and waited for about 20 minutes, even driving around to go look for him. I thought maybe he went to the Viewpoint thinking we went there? Kevin thought he wouldn’t go up there without us. We decided to at least drive to the waterfall and wait for him. I don’t know why, but I decided to stop right in the middle of an ascending hill, causing Viola to fall backwards down the hill with her bike toppling her. Thankfully, Kevin had a medical kit to patch her up. A few minutes later, Björn came down and I like I thought, he went up to Viewpoint thinking we all just went there, but he didn’t make it all the way because he came to a fork in the road and didn’t know which way we would have went, so he turned around. We lost some time trying to look for him and it was going to be dark soon, but we decided to keep on going up the mountain. On the way up, the road became muddy and slick. It was quite dangerous as I could feel my bike lose traction over the road. We came to areas where we had to get off our bikes to trudge through the muddy parts and in some cases, had to ride our bikes down slopes using our feet as a balance on the ground. We started to grow conscious if we should keep going. We’ve gone this far, we might as well make it to the top! We still had about five kilometers left until we reached the Viewpoint, and so the path became more perilous as we went on. Since I was leading the way, I think the others were banking on my decision on whether we press forward or not. It was getting dark and the adventurous part of me wanted to keep going, but the reasonable part knew we should stop and turn around. We came to two strangers in the road, surely boozed up men, who spoke no English, but signaled that it was too dangerous to continue any further by crossing their two index fingers into the shape of an ‘X’. I could tell they weren’t trying to force us, but rather suggesting. The said some other things to us in Thai, but even though I couldn’t understand their language, it was clear they were slurring their words around and kept talking to us, even grabbing my and Björn’s arm at certain points, getting a little too friendly. Dealing with drugged up people in the middle of nowhere makes me nervous, especially foreign strangers that I can’t understand. They’re unpredictable. Let’s just turn around and head back. It was getting too dark to see anything anyways.
The way back down the mountain was perhaps more dangerous than going up. Kevin hurt himself when he lost control of his bike in the mud to the point of almost crashing into me! He had his handy medical kit though. Unfortunately, he shattered one of his side-view mirror, which is gonna cost him. The rest of the was was no trouble. The only thing that bothered me were all of the bugs flying in my face like a windshield. I’m pretty sure I ate more than a dozen insects! Eventually, we made it back to the main area of Pai and decided to go to the bar at Giants and relax while the Sticky Rice Band played their jams. Tonight was rock-n-roll night as the band played classic rock songs with a touch of their own hippie-ish reggae vibe. This would also be the final night of us as a foursome. I had to leave to go to Bangkok, where Viola would be joining me one day later. Kevin and Björn were headed to Laos to begin a trip across the country there. This probably won’t be the last time I would see them, as we found out we would all be in Cambodia at the same time later on, so we’ll regroup there. I was pooped and told the Germans to wake me up before they went to sleep, so I could give then a proper goodbye. I would be leaving very early in the morning and didn’t want to take them.
Everyone I’ve met on this trip that’s been to Thailand has told me to come to Pai, but could never give me a persuading reason besides it being so great. But now I understand what they were trying to tell me. I intended on staying for only maybe three days or so but ended up staying for a week! I loved the laid-back atmosphere, met three hilariously amazing people, and had nothing short of a wonderful time. I never planned on coming here at all; it was completely last minute! In fact, I stayed so long that I forgot that my initial visa in Thailand only lasted for 15 days! I only had two days left to extend it. Time for what they call here in Southeast Asia, a “visa run”.