Chiang Mai to Pai: It’s about 125 km to Pai and it took me over 3 hours. That’s because the road has those famous 762 curves and also because many of those curves are full of dirt, sand or gravel…or all three. There isn’t much traffic, but when three or four of those 10-seat vans are barreling down on you as you navigate the twists and turns, it can be a little nervous-making. I upgraded to a giant 125cc beast for this trip for the sake of a little stability and smoother ride. I met some other guys today who also took the ride from Chiangmai. They were riding 650-750cc. Why, I’m not sure. There really aren’t too many places you can air it out on this road. Too much of a mess. But there are areas further along this loop of 600km that will be very satisfying for them.
There’s quite a bit of construction going on as well. The Thai government is obviously putting considerable resources into re-grading, widening and re-paving this road, but it’s likely to take another year or more before it’s complete. There are some stretches that are wide, smooth and clean. But the rule is: Take Your Time. Do not be in a hurry.
It’s easy to see why Pai is attracting lots of attention. It’s beautiful. The scenery, ethnic diversity, small-town country feel and slower pace are all magnets for tourists. Thing is, it’s become a trendy little backpacker bistro by the rice paddies, full of bars, cafes, handicraft shops, motorbike rentals and tour operators. There certainly are tours worth taking and
treks worth making. The happening neighbourhood is all walking street with scooters weaving through pedestrians. I arrived in the early afternoon and spent my time sampling some of the obvious sights along the river and off the beaten track to Pam Bok waterfall.
Pi-the square root of the distance I’ve traveled divided by the radius of my view from the seat of this motorcycle passing through Pai, which is only coincidentally still Thai by virtue of the presence of more twenty-snam-things per square meter of coffee shop than ข้าวสาร** per square meter of the S̄nām*-things stretching out in almost iridescent green I can view from the veranda of “Coffee Love” as I sip my iced Americano.
I might have chosen the cookies and cream pie from the glass display case, or one of the other giant slices of wonder looking Thī̀ ca tāy*** for. I pondered if the size of the pie was designed for the size of the European tourist and how did those Thais get away with eating that whole thing without looking like us? Don’t they know they are headed for the heaven of Die-abetics?
I told some guy that I was here for the first time and he said you’ll love it. I asked
if there was anyone over 30 here and he said yes, but they don’t come out when the temperature is too high.
Tomorrow I say ‘bye to Pai and head for Mae Hong Son… in the sky.
Oh yeah. One of the reasons I so enjoy Thailand:
Cheap, creative, and really good.
Tomorrow: about 170 km to Mae Hong Son. My butt hurts already.
* S̄nām: fields
**ข้าวสาร: rice (pron: cow-sam)
***Thī̀ ca tāy: to die, (pron: tea ka tie)