Monday, August 3, 2009

Trip to Pai!

Seeing elephants heading up the road while on our biking adventure!

Pai Canyon!

Hot Springs at Pai

Heading across the scary bridge to the bungalows!

Hi all!

I just got back to Chiang Mai after a wonderful weekend in Pai!  Last week flew by… my class is going very well.  I am learning all sorts of things about how to teach English.  We spent a lot of time exploring Chiang Mai last week, and I have stumbled upon so many great wats, restaurants, and beautiful scenery.

So my friends and I decided to spend the weekend in Pai- this hippie village in the  mountains of Northern Thailand up kind of by Burma.   I’ve heard this place is like a backpackers paradise so we were excited.  (also you all will be proud to know that I indeed only did have a small backpack. Impressive for me I know)  Anyway, we ride 3 hours on Friday afternoon in this 15 passenger van through the most absurd roads I’ve ever seen -literally going through the jungle.  It was terrifying and all of us were carsick.  It was beautiful though if you can stomach it.  There was so much up and down, stray dogs running across the road, and herds of cows wandering around, that I was surprised we made it there without injuring ourselves or another creature. 

Once we arrived, we found a guesthouse to stay in for the night.  This was also hilarious.  We only paid 3 dollars to stay here so I shouldn’t complain, but it was the worst place I have ever seen.  My mattress might as well have been made of a wooden plank, there were cobwebs everywhere, and the walls were made of something that looked like bark.  We dropped off our backpacks here and went to find dinner.  After a nice Thai meal we found a bar with live music and stayed there for a few hours. 

Saturday, we woke up early and went to get breakfast.  After this, we rented bicycles.  They were only 4 dollars for 24 hours of rental so we thought we would use them to get around Pai.  We told the man at the rental place that we wanted to ride out to the hot springs we had heard about from a friend.  The man laughed and tried to get us to rent motorbikes.  This should have been our warning, but we really didn’t think anything through very well.  We rented our bikes, went back to our gross guesthouse to get our backpacks, and decided to find a cute bungalow or hut to rent for Saturday night.  We found one set of bungalows across the river, but they were closed.  I mention this only because to get to them we had to cross a bridge that likely appeared in Fear Factor.  It was only made of rickety bamboo and had no sides.  It was terrifying!  We eventually found an adorable set of bungalows and we rented a handful of them for Saturday night.  They were really rustic and charming- we even had these pretty mosquito nets over the beds haha.  We dropped off our stuff, took pictures of some lizards, as if we didn’t already look like tourists, then headed out to the hot springs. 

It was about 90 degrees and the humidity was SO intense.  The road was through the mountains, and the bikes were old and only had one speed so we couldn’t switch gears or anything.  Every other hill we would have to get off and push our bikes up the hill then coast back down.  The view made it completely worth it (so did the 7 elephants we passed on the road), but all of us said we were glad we didn’t know what we were getting into or none of us would have done it.  Needless to say, by the time we arrived to the hot springs, all of us were drenched in sweat and we had no desire to then soak in a hot spring.  We explored a little first and took some pictures (like one of a sign that said “No Boil Egg” next to one hot spring- apparently that is a common problem?)  We eventually got in one of the cooler hot springs and stayed in for about 45 minutes.  We then headed home a different way- basically making a loop from the springs back to town.  This road was no better.   I’m horrific on a bike as most of you know, and the entire thing was so terrible and ridiculous it was really funny.  All the motorists that passed us looked at us like we were crazy. 

After about a mere12 miles of intense mountain biking on one speed banana seat bikes, we finally made it home Saturday late afternoon (we did stop once to climb up a steep incline to see Pai Canyon which has really spectacular views!).  Two of our friends had rented motorbikes and met us in Pai.  Some of us had considered renting them and all of us biking up together, but our instructor in class insisted that we would probably “rip our faces off” if we attempted this, and I’m having way too much fun to accidentally kill myself now.  (Actually on the way home two more of my friends did decide to rent motorbikes back to Chiang Mai and my friend Katy wrecked twice and is really skinned up).  After much needed showers in our cute bungalows, we headed out to another great meal and several more fun bars in the town.  I even tried Thai wasn't that bad, and I think it made the night more enjoyable haha.  The town is so cool and artsy – it was a great experience!  Anyway, I have to get going- we have our first graded assignment- a peer teach in a few hours and my partner and I have to go over our lesson plans and assignments before our turn is here.  I hope everyone is doing well! Miss you all!

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