Trip to Pai

Pai is a small village 3h North of Chiang Mai. It has gone from hippie haven to near-mandatory backpacker stop. It is very rural, surrounded by rice fields, and boasts some pretty amazing hot springs.

We chose a pretty leisurely time, 2pm. As it's Friday and therefore "present day" (a deal we made with Lucas back in Madrid to avoid pestering) we had time to find a couple of small toys and have a quick lunch. Maybe straight after lunch wasn't such a good idea. We got picked up in a rickety old van which we thought was a bit cheeky (we had paid for aircon) until we realised it was just to take is to the depot. There we changed to a proper minibus which hurtled through the Thai countryside on a stomach-churning white-knuckle ride. All four of us are pretty carsick-resistant so we didn't even think of bringing medicine for that, but an hour into it Aisha let a bit out. Then promptly fell asleep for the rest of the way. Lucas also fell for the last hour.

My god our little Pai has grown up! It's not a sleepy little village any more (it wasn't really that when we came here 9 years ago either) but a bustling town of 20,000 people. The main town centre is still pretty small (just one traffic light) but in the outskirts hotels and bars have sprung up like mushrooms.

Our hotel is 2km from Pai. It's lovely for a couple on honeymoon but not very practical for a family. We were just going to hang around the hotel, but were offered a lift into town. Bumped into Andy and Anna so had a great time wandering around eating things on sticks, and drinking ginger tea out of bamboo cups and Chang beer.

Ended the night at a hippie bar watching a fire show to live music. The kids were blown away, it was their first real experience of rastas, crusties and jugglers. They stole the show a bit with their dancing on stage and then settled down a bit to be amazed at the fire juggling. They were especially impressed how nobody got burned, and when one actually ate some fire Lucas had to go and ask him how he did it (the answer was more of a why: he was hungry and it was his dinner). At the end they were shattered but ecstatic. Gutted I didn't bring the camera.

Lesson learnt today: don't write in the blog, or even look at a tablet, on the way to Pai.

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