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Saturday, 22 November 2008


15th November – 22nd November

We moved in alongside Lucy and Rene at the Unicorn 2, just a little way out of town.
Once again they’d done the hard work for us and sussed out the best value huts in Pai. An added bonus was that included in our room rate of just 150 baht, we could use the swimming pool, sauna and wifi facilities at the newer, much posher Unicorn 1.

Saturday night was very lively in Pai. It turns out that the town, whose permanent population is just 3000, is a growing weekend destination for Thai tourists. We heard it had something to do with the a popular Thai film being set here? The streets were thronging with tourists and traders and we filled our faces on street food before enjoying some delicious thai veggie curries at a nearby restaurant.

For the first couple of days we chilled by the Unicorn pool, waiting for our war wounds to dry out in the sun, and to warm our aching “post-massage school” bodies. We checked out a couple of cooking schools and settled on “Lets Wok with Tee”, a informal set up in Tee’s home. It was a different arrangement to the traditional cooking class whereby you would spend the whole day cooking and leave by 5 o’clock. At Tee’s, we started the morning session at 10am and cooked Thai curries until lunchtime at 1.30pm. The afternoon was spent sleeping off our excesses by the pool before starting the evening session and preparing soups and stir-fries for dinner. As with all cooking schools we got to eat everything we made; with Tee we also cooked with lots of beer at hand and the company of his very cool friends, listening to his tunes. All in all a very “easy, easy” (Tee’s mantra!) day. The food of course was awesome and an added bonus was we got to return the following night to cook another recipe, for free, and join the party again!

Another fun day was spent riding to Sappong, half-way to Mae Hong Son. The road was a continuation of what we experienced on the way to Pai and again the views were stunning. We visited a cave and after travelling aboard a rickety bamboo raft on the river into the cave, spent an hour exploring the vast underground caverns of limestone stalactites and stalagmites.

Other highlights when in Pai are said to be the various hot springs and
waterfalls, though if you’re feeling tight you’d do far worse than to check out the Spa Exotica hot pools for half the price, and you can actually swim in these! We went at dusk, after spending time watching the sun set over the picturesque Pai Canyon. There was a film shoot taking place at the canyon when we were there, which was an added bit of entertainment! On that same night, we’d seen flyers for a bonfire and mini festival at a nearby art gallery. We popped in to warm ourselves on the fire, and were treated to some live music by a local band – funnily enough the same band we’d seen just the night before and one with an unforgettable lead vocalist – a woman with the deepest, most unusual voice imaginable (now I know what you thinking, but it was a woman for sure!) with the hugest head of thick backcombed hair. I guess the voice matched the hair quite well…

Despite our little mishap we’d enjoyed our ride to Pai so much that we wanted to take a bike back to Chiang Mai rather than endure the local bus. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be; the company we’d hired from plants a 500 baht surcharge onto the one-way rental from Pai to Chiang Mai, reasoning that there are more tourists wanting to ride this direction than towards Pai, and therefore they have to pay to bring the bikes back. We didn’t really believe this was the case but couldn’t get them to waive this fee, even though the bike we’d brought up from Chiang Mai was still sat in the forecourt! And so the bus it was. At least it was downhill!

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