After a fantastic few days exploring the jungle, we booked a bus to Pai, 4 hours north of Chiang Mai. Coming highly recommended from many different people over the last few years, we were naturally very excited about exploring the town and the surrounding scenery.
We booked the bus for 300 THB for both of us and upon booking, there was an old Aussie guy who warned us “729 turns in 130km. If you suffer from car sickness, take a tablet beforehand”! Well he was totally right, as we got into the air con minivan, there were plastic bags tied to the back of each seat in preparation for people being sick! Having never suffered from travel sickness before, I was surprised that I did start to feel pretty queasy after a while. This could have been due to the fact that we spent the first hour of the journey (on straight road) playing travel scrabble!
A guy on the bus had recommended that we go to check out a hostel called Circus. We proceeded to wander about, laden with our packs, investigating the different options. Finally, after getting a little lost, we reached Circus to find that the room rate was really inflated and it seemed like a party hostel with a really pretentious air. So we decided against it and walked a fair way to the other budget option being back in town called Purple Monkey. We eventually arrived at Purple Monkey, by which point I was starting to grumble, and were welcomed by the familiar sound of old school 90s hip hop playing (as opposed to loathsome Psy-Trance at Circus) and instantly knew we had made the right choice. At check in, there was a sign saying “please let reception know if you have come from Circus”. We enquired as to why and were told that they had a bed bug problem, so we really dodged a bullet there!
While walking around the town, I had spotted a bar called Edible Jazz and saw that they had an open mic night that evening. So violin in hand, with a couple of gypsy jazz backing tracks, I went to perform 3 tunes that evening. It went down really well and I was invited to play a gig each night that week in exchange for our own plush bungalow with en suite bathroom (an upgrade for us on our shoestring budget). The owner, Ying told me that her business partner Jason would be back in town for our last night in Pai and was a mean Gypsy Jazz guitarist.
We hired a moped and spent a few days admiring the local sights, went to some waterfalls and trekked up to the big statue of The White Buddha at sunset for panoramic views of the local countryside. We also spent an afternoon at Fluid swimming pool with chilled house and great smoothies! One of the highlights for us was the food in Pai, every night there being a street food market with a vast array of cuisine to try, best pick after a few beers being The Chicken run by an awesome crazy Thai lady who speaks English well in a unique and quirky way. Our favourite restaurants were by far Charlie and Lek’s, Tik’s and the food at Edible Jazz.
On our last day I met Jason who turned out to be a fantastic guitarist and rehearsed a set to play that evening. Sadly just after we finished rehearing, we got the news that the Thai king had died and there would be no live music for a month. The next morning we played together one more time, very quietly at his hostel and then headed to Bangkok to catch our flight to Hanoi (from the right airport this time)!