Day Twenty One

Boring day today, really. Up to have the complimentary breakfast, which ended up being a complete joke of either dry toast or toast with some crappy old pineapple marmalade dregs on, or a slice of pineapple or watermelon. No thanks. Got ready and headed to the bus station to get back to Chiang Mai. We were gonna go to Koh Tao but thought it would be an idea to break up the travel by stopping for the night in Chiang Mai. The buses were full, so we had to wait around for a few hours before getting on. After spending a good few days in Pai, we felt it was more than enough. We’d wanted to chill for a few days but couldn’t really, ‘cos Tony’s was a bit of a let-down, so we hadn’t done that much apart from yesterday—which would have been fine except that it wasn’t as enjoyable as we thought. I reckon you’d need to go a couple of miles outta town for the peace, and travel in when you wanted some small-town vibes. If you just wanna see the place I’d stay for three days, but if you could get a scenic reading nook of a hotel in the hills you could stay until you got bored.

Anyway, we got to Chiang Mai and had a bit of a keruel. Went in McDonald’s to get some Wi-Fi and get our bearings as we didn’t know which bus station we were at, and through a series of events ended up having to pay ฿170 for two lots of fries, walked down a super highway, and got slightly ripped off by a racist taxi driver ( ฿40 when it says ฿30 clearly on the side) but we were too tired to argue at this point—well, with the driver, ‘cos we argued with each other later on. We found Lauren’s guesthouse of choice. It seemed a good option to be fair at ฿200 a night. Jay’s Guesthouse it was called. Found it without too
much trouble, dumped our stuff, had a moan at each other and then went out for a walk to the flip-flop shop Lauren had wanted to go to for ages. There was a pair of clueless Americans trying to barter or a price marked item. This is a no-no, in case you don’t know. You only barter for stuff without a price on it. They wanted ฿20 off and were being really rude all like “I know that they’re ฿70 and it’s the ones out there that are ฿50, but I like this pair and want them for ฿50”. Tough! You can’t have them, you spoilt twerp! I went over and offered to give him the ฿20 to prove a point and shut him up. It worked and they left. The woman gave Lauren ฿10 off her pair. We went the night market as it was close, but remembered how busy and stressful it was and left after about five minutes. That’s the thing about a lot of places here: they seem great on paper, but really there’s tons of people and it ends up being hassle.

Went back to the hotel and started to hunker down when Lauren screamed and made me jump. Good job, as there was a huge bed bug hurtling toward my face. We turned the pillow over and they were everywhere. THE HORROR!! After thirty seconds of hurried discussion we packed our stuff and just ran out. Didn’t want them buggers getting in our stuff and haunting us around our travels and maybe even bringing them home. Ew.

It was about 11pm and we didn’t have high hopes of finding anywhere to stay in our budget, so we were half ready to sit around on the kerb until sun-up. Thankfully, after traipsing around for a while, we found a place for ฿450—฿50 over budget but inside it was really nice. Na Inn, it’s called. I recommend it. In a good location, massive bed, AC, simple breakfast, clean, spacious, fridge, tv, balcony, the lot. Good stuff. It meant we had spent ฿225 each over budget for the day but it’s not like that was our fault, and at least we had somewhere nice to stay. We decided that it was so nice we’d linger in the Chiang
for another day and have a pamper day tomorrow in our lovely room. CRANK THAT AC TO 15 DEGREES BABY!

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Day Twenty

What a day! We were up early to check out of Tony’s, as Lauren had another crap night’s sleep ‘cos the mozzie net is riddled with holes, the sheet keeps pinging off the mattress, and she has a slightly irrational hatred of the building which means she just lays there stewing in anger. Tony said we had to pay the full weeks’ worth that we’d booked. Fair enough I suppose, but we’d booked a ฿150 room and had been staying in a ฿200 room and he wanted to charge us ฿200 x 3 for the nights we weren’t staying. I guess charging the extra nights is fair enough as we did book it, but not ฿600. ฿450; that was Lauren’s main point. Anyway, Lauren hates it there so much that she wanted to pay the ฿450 herself and still leave. So Lauren came back and told me that he was being a douche so we decided to make him pay. I got the app up so we could threaten to cancel through there (so he’d only get ฿150 or every night we were there), I made a puddle of beer to attract more ants, and did a massive poo in the toilet and let it lay there half submerged in the water for him to find.

We gathered our stuff and left prepared for an argument, but after saying about the app he just charged us ฿150/night for the nights we were there and for the three nights we weren’t. We’d been ready to pay ฿200 for the first four nights and ฿150 for the three after, so I suppose that was a good outcome. I felt a bit bad later though, as even though he wasn’t great about it we’d essentially got an upgraded room for four nights for free, made a new ant colony under the bed, thought about nicking a towel, and let Tony know what we thought of him with the present I’d left sliding down the porcelain.

We got to the Easy Guest House and dumped our gear. We went off to get a scooter and scoot around the main attractions. It was ฿150 and a full tank was another ฿50. Lauren was on the back and she was quite scared, she told me later. After slating Tony we had asked him for recommendations and a map so we knew where to go. We followed the main road for a little while and then turned off down a rickety old road where every rock and pot hole could have meant our deaths. We came to the land split: an area of land that had a couple of fissures in it made by earthquakes, the deepest being maybe fifteen metres deep and 100m-odd long. The guy couldn’t farm there anymore, so he marketed his land as a tourist attraction and just asks for donations. He was also giving away some fruit juice on a donation basis, but I didn’t take any as I felt I’d have to give more than the ฿6 I’d already put in the pot.

We hopped back on our pink moped and carried on down the scary windy road for another two miles through some quite nice jungle and mountainy farmlandy scenery until we got to the Pam Bok waterfall. There was a little uphill path through some trees alongside a stream and some industrial sized hoses (that we thought might be the source of the waterfall when there’s not enough rain) that led to a rickety wooden bridge that crossed the stream, and then there was a path down to the water where there was a shallow bit with about twenty people paddling about in it. Further up there was the waterfall but you couldn’t really see it as it was around a corner unless you went down to the water which we didn’t want to ‘cos it was crowded with pot mongs and shoeless hippies from Pai. Could just about see it though. We weren’t impressed that much by it. Pretty standard waterfall tarnished by the noisy boys and girls pathetically trying to impress each other by jumping in and wearing tiny bikinis. The ride up there was good though, apart from the condition of the road.

We headed back out to the main road and a couple of miles later we saw Pai canyon but drove past accidentally so just went to monument bridge first. It was like a mini Bridge Over the River Kwai type deal, built by the Japanese to transport weapons in the war. It was maybe a car’s width and a couple hundred meters long and has holes all over it and a banged-up rickshaw chained up on it. They left this bridge alone and built another proper road on a concrete bridge next to it. Not much more to say about it.

Image result for pai canyon thailandDrove back to Pai canyon. This place is crazy dangerous. People must have died here. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like a natural stone ridge that sprawls out into the near distance over the top of the trees with a sheer drop on both sides. The walkways were only about a foot wide in places and there was no railings or safety measures at all. Lauren made us go across the first bit but we decided not to carry on as neither of us had grippy shoes and the ridge was sandy so I feared for our lives, especially going over the narrow bit. I got on my belly at one point and poked my head over the edge and told Lauren I could see a body. She said it was probably rubbish. It was an interesting natural feature and definitely worth going to as I’ve never seen anything like it before. It goes on for quite a while so if you were brave/stupid enough to walk the whole lot it’d keep you busy. Plus, the views were great apart from a few radio towers. Again, there were a few people knocking about but I didn’t mind here ‘cos then at least if we fell off someone would see and (hopefully) get help. There was one mad Chinese girl who went over to one narrow overhanging part of rock to pose for a photo and couldn’t turn around to get back on. Not wise in my opinion. Safety first kids.

Got back on Scrappy the Scooter and burned off back over the bridge to our last stop the
white Buddha and the wat that’s opposite (forgot the name). Again the drive was good apart from a few retarded Thai drivers. Some nice rice fields and a tunnel of trees that we had to go through. The best thing about the Buddha was the steps up to it. The Buddha itself is just a big white stone deal that had scaffolding all over it but the steps up to it were numerous and wide. It felt like and accomplishment getting to the top and there was a great mountainy view from the top. Loads of people kept ignoring the “please take off your shoes” signs which really annoys me. Regardless of whether you agree with the principle or not, you’re in someone else’s country and on a religious site that requires you to do something. They’re letting you up for free and you don’t even have the respect to put down your selfie stick and take off your shoes?!

Anyway, that pretty much concluded our scooter ride or the day. We got most of the main attractions in apart from the hot springs ‘cos they were ฿300 to get in and there was no way we were paying that. It was a good day. The attractions were better than expected and the drive was scenic too. We also found a local market/funfair where the prices were actually good (฿40 or a light blag polo jacket, ฿30 for shorts, ฿39 for some Hell’s Angels flip-flops that I bought, etc) It was down the road quite a bit if you come out the bus station and go right and carry on straight you can’t miss it. Dunno if it’s only on on certain days though.

Day Eighteen

Had a sweet ten hours last night. We just wanted a chill day today so I kinda pottered on the internet and said Hi to people on Messenger until Lauren got up. Eventually made our way into town and got an eggy rice thing from the dear restaurant and a can of Schweppes lime that Sam kept banging on about. He said they didn’t have lemon soda in France. It was like a nicer version of 7-Up.

Lauren wasn’t too happy today as she’s fed up with the insects in the guesthouse. They’re annoying me too but I have my doubts that there’s anywhere much better in our price range. It would be really nice to be able to not have to think about whether you’ve stuffed the gaps in the door with bog roll today or if you’ve forgotten. I was sat outside for a while earlier reading Sherlock Holmes and looking at the view while Lauren had a nap, and I couldn’t really relax cos I’m constantly on the lookout for insects that seem like they have a score to settle and nothing to lose. There was also a snake outside before so that’s another thing to watch out for.

I got tired of being outside and my bum was getting a bit sore off the stone bench so I went to join Lauren for a nap. We slept for hours for some reason. I have a tiny bit of sunburn on my shoulder even though it was cloudy today, I think from sitting outside. I’ll have to be more careful in future, as being in the sun too much can wear you out.

We went to check out a hotel that Lauren has her eye on. It’s ฿250 a night which is still ok but its down a dark road and there’s scary dogs at every turn. They come after you barking if you’re not quick. I don’t think it’ll be much better but you do get breakfast with it which might be good. Guess we’ll wander down tomorrow as it was closed tonight. If there are no bugs it will be worth it, but if there’s still some getting in then I’d rather stay and have the view, which is one of the few redeeming features of Tony’s.

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Day Sixteen

Got up to find Sam, as he was coming with us to Pai, and to book our bus. There was one that went from the hotel. An air-con minivan, it said. We could have got a local bus for ฿70 and a taxi to the station for ฿30, but we didn’t mind paying a bit extra for less hassle and AC. A little flatbed truck thing pulled up a while later. We were all horrified at the state of it and hoped it wasn’t taking us all the way. We said goodbye to Ev and Red and hopped aboard the truck and tried to sit in a way that didn’t have a piece of metal poking into our backs.

Twenty minutes later after going down all the little streets picking people up from their hotels we thankfully got to a little bus station where we got into a proper van. I didn’t realise how many people were getting on so popped my bag on the bottom. didn’t realise that it wasn’t just the five people he’d picked up on the bus; he waited until the van was full so eleven in total. My poor bag. Not surprised my laptop keys are broken. Lesson learnt: put your bag on last.

The ride took about four hours when on Google it says 1:45, but he was going so slow and the van really struggled with the winding hills because of all the weight in it. It was just going through a jungly path the whole way and there was a weird security checkpoint at the province border. It made me and Lauren wonder what makes a jungle and if we actually were in one.

When we finally got there I was a bit disappointed at how big it was. Most things I’ve read make out like it’s a really small town but it’s a bit like a smaller Chiang Mai but with higher mountains. The streets seem quite clean but there’s hardly any pavements as the shops all put their crap on it so you have to walk in the road. There’s also a hard shoulder type thing on the main road that people drive in. I’m not sure if this is for people or cars but you have to walk in it as there’s nowhere else. It’s definitely more chilled out than Chiang Mai and smaller but there’s still an airport knocking about somewhere. We got a grilled corn on the cob before parting ways with Sam who wanted AC and headed to our bungalow. We saw a sign for it as we passed in the van and we found it quite easily. It’s around a ten-minute walk out of town which I wanted for some peace and quiet. On the photos it looks really secluded but it actually looks down the hill onto the main road so you can see quite a few buildings.

We were supposed to stay in a wooden bungalow but it had loads of holes in the walls and there was a brick one with its own bathroom and mesh on the windows for a bit more so we went for that as we thought it would keep the bugs out. It also had a better view I reckon which was one of the main reasons for choosing Tony’s even though it’s full of houses and a weirdly ugly turquoise building that stands out like a sore thumb, whatever that means.

Once we got inside we realised that the mesh on the windows was loose in the corner, neither the windows nor door closed completely, the bathroom was outside but inside again, and there was no mosquito net in this one which we thought we’d need. The doors are glass so you can look at stuff without getting covered in bugs but the wicker bench at the wooden bungalow has been replaced or a concrete one here so I got a sore bum when I read my Kindle out there too long. It’s not exactly a palace but it’s nice to see the clouds in between the mountains in the distance. There’s some kinda temple set in the trees I can see too which would be cool to visit.

After getting settled a bit, I messaged Sam and we went for something to eat. I got a bowl of curry noodles, a couple of curry pus and a tomato avocado grilled cheese bruschetta thing. I got a pair of simple pants or ฿130 to keep the bugs off my legs, so I’m fully protected now, hopefully.

I didn’t realise how Reggae this place was. There’s loads of hippies knocking about possibly outnumbering the locals and most bars have Bob Marley type stuff playing. I’m not a fan but if you were this is the place. Had a mojito at a bar that was playing Eminem when we went past earlier but had a live act come on. We moved to another bar and another live act came on. We tried to go up to the roof as was advertised but it was a little square half the size of my kitchen with a load of lay abouts sprawled everywhere saying “O yahh”, so we left. Just went to one more bar (that had a couch that was more hole than material and a tyre for a chair) for an expensive beer then went home. The place does have a mellow night time scene with lots of twinkle lights which I liked in spite of the filthy hippies.

Got back to the room to find a scorpion chilling out on the wall. I wanted to kill it but Lauren said I had to catch it and throw it outside. Got one of our water bottles and put it over it which it didn’t like so it tried to sting the bottle a couple of times. I proper launched it out the door, secretly hoping that it went hurling to a watery grave in the lake at the bottom of the hill.

Day Six

Woke up late again. (Idiot on bongos, hard bed, hot, etc etc.) Julie’s guesthouse for the win! Lauren was a bit worried that our original plan has been abandoned so she wanted to get some planning done. I felt like just lying on the cushions in the garden area and saying things like “Chill out maaan, you’re killin my groove…” but I stepped up to my boy-friendly duties and helped. Ended up getting some money off Laurens friend so we could spend a week looking after some dogs. I’m not too keen as I picture myself just shovelling turds for most of the day while dodging their rabid jaws but hey, it’s only costing me 45 quid for the whole week so I’m saving money overall as accommodation and food is included and that’s always good. There’s a chance to pet elephants too so it could go either way.

Reserved a bungalow in Pai (pronounced “bye”—who knew!) which is basically a toilet-less shed on stilts but its only ฿150/night. “Tony’s Bungalows” its called. I doubt his name is Tony. They need stilts ‘cos there are mudslides and floods all the time. Wiped out the village in 2005. It was my idea to go here cos it’s way out up the hills so there are views and we can save money by just reading all day and laying about outside. There are also walks you can go on as it’s in a place with loads of trees so it might be nice, assuming we don’t get swept away and drown in a tidal wave of dirt.

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We spent the rest of the day looking around for these cool vests I saw the other day as I only have two tops and I have to keep washing ‘em all the time. Turns out that after hours of walking it was in the opposite direction. I knew we should have brought a compass. We accidentally found a temple we were looking for yesterday (we thought we found it yesterday but it was the wrong one) among others. Probably go tomorrow and chat to a monk. They have monk chat sessions to improve their English. Didn’t really see anything new on the walk, although got a slightly more Thai feel I suppose on the west side. The wall is all the same, I’ll tell you that for free. Once you’ve seen one bit of its rubble-y remains you’ve seen it all.

We walked back and forth over one section like four times and it took ages. We nearly got a taxi but we eventually just found our way back to the hotel ourselves. The bongo man was still at it. We don’t know where its coming from but he’s got a friend with a guitar now. It’s not even good, it’s just a load of layabouts thinking they’re cultured and spiritual because they’re in a different city and know two chords and a little tune on the jungle drums. Unbelievable. There’s a guy who’s always in the garden area, never has his top on, has a little tribal number on his ankle and is covered in beads. If this were Cluedo I’d be saying I accuse the mentally-incompetent German on the rooftop with the bongo drums.

What else did we do today…oh yes, we had a couple of warm beers from the fridge while we read our books (Lauren, The Dark Tower; me, Sherlock Holmes), found a massive snail, ate a load of cheap biscuits from the 7-11, thought about buying a fresh coconut and drinking it with a straw and found a water machine that gives you a litre of clean water for a baht instead of about ten. Thing is though, there is no English on it. Almost like they don’t want us to know. It is a bit tepid though.

It’s about 3am here and I can still hear the drums going. At least I think I can. I might just be going a bit mad.