Pai……. Seems I have heard that word before. 🙂
One day in the RimPing Supermarket we met a Scottish guy, who said he and his wife ran a restaurant in Pai. So we decided to head out early one morning and head up into “them thar hills” to Pai and see if we could find him and say hello. It is about a 170 klms trip from Chiang Mai. On checking the tyre pressures before leaving, we found we were heading out of town in the wrong direction. Well, not necessarily wrong but the lady informed us it was a LONG way, the way we were headed, turn around head out of town the other side and it is only about 170 klms. The way you are going it is 300 klms !!!
So we turned and headed in the right direction. The first 50 or so klms is easy flat driving (Chiang Mai is a BIG place). Then the hills started. We found out later the road is called “The road of a thousand curves”. Not only curves, but up mountain sides and down and up again. Hairpin bends that make even first gear struggle. I did not video much of this section as it is jungle on both sides all the way, so not very interesting unless you like jungle. 🙂
We arrived in Pai, (look it up on Google Earth, if you haven’t got it, download it and type in Pai, Thailand), a bit before lunch time and asked at the 7/11 store if they knew a Scottish guy who ran a restaurant? Hmmmm there are dozens of restaurants all run by Aussies, Poms and Scottish guys. No idea was the answer. So we drove around town and asked in a few cafes, but it was useless and in the end we gave up and just had lunch in one of the restaurants and decided not to stay for the night as intended but to move on to another town further down the road.
So off we trundled up hill and down dale to a town called Mae Hong Son (look it up on Google Earth) which is about 90 klms from Pai. Nice little town not as commercial as Pai, had a hard job even to find a guest house, had to ask a policeman where they were hidden. Anyway we found one that was delightful called “Rom Thai”. We were shown a traditional Thai teak bungalow tucked deep in a fantastic garden full of palm trees, banana trees, ginger plants, in fact just about every tropical plant you can name. A lovely BBQ area for dinner and drinks overlooking two large ponds set in a running stream chock-a-block with lotus plants, water lilies and fish.
The bungalow was one of three or four and was hard to get a picture of because of the tropical growth. It was more than we really wanted to pay for the night but because of it’s uniqueness we decided to lash out and spend 600baht ($19.60) just to spoil ourselves. Check the pics and video of the trip.
After resting for a while we wandered out (as Wombats do) to find an eatery. This town is so far removed from the tourist trail that we only found one. Called The Fern Restaurant, is was opposite a small food night market, so after nibbling on some ‘Tempura” style vegetables.
We went into The Fern even though Mrs Wombat proclaimed…
“Here goes the next week’s food budget !!!”
It was a beautiful restaurant as you will see from the video and pictures. The lady manager suggested to try the “local food”, so we settled for a large Chang beer (That’s local…. Thai anyway LOL) and a pork dish Kang Hunglay and Chicken dish, Oop Kai. Served with a seeded steamed rice both dishes were absolutely divine. Tender and tasty, spicy but not chilli hot the herb flavours of ginger and lemongrass were subtle, not overpowering. Followed by two serves of ice cream with candied coconut flesh plus a large and small bottle of Chang beer the lot set us back a whopping 485Baht ($15.85) 🙂
On top of this we were entertained by a guy on the keyboard singing Thai songs along with some 40 year old golden oldies. I asked him if he would let me video a Thai song and he sang “Talay Jai” or “Sea Heart” for us which I promised to put on our web site. So click here to watch the video of him singing and enjoy…. We did. 🙂
Early next morning we “Hit the road” to work off the 300klms back to Chiang Mai. It turned out that this was the way we were originally heading when the lady at the tyre shop told us it was a long way.
We drove now through farm country (carved out of the jungle) through villages with names like, Bang Mapha, Ban Huai Pong, Ban Mae Surin, Khun Yuan, Ban Nah Hang, Chom Tong heading back the long way to Chiang Mai, enjoying some grilled chicken at a roadside stall and then trundling on.
On the road amongst the motor bikes we passed with mum, dad and the kids aboard, farmers with chickens etc. on we saw two scooters with a Farang guy and a blonde Farang woman. So we stopped, hailed them and inquired why “Two Farangs of their years, (younger than us !!!), were out in the middle of nowhere on scooters.” It transpired they were like us, but from Melbourne, on a six month (that’s when insurance runs out) holiday, motor biking through Indonesia, and Thailand. Taking it slowly and soaking up the local atmosphere. (Watch the video). We gave them our phone numbers and they promised to catch up in Chiang Mai for a Chang Beer or three. 🙂
So later that afternoon after negotiating hundreds of hills, curves and washouts and having covered over 500klms we arrived back at the condo for a well-earned cup of coffee.
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A round trip from Chiang Mai through Pai and Mae Hong Son and return to Chiang Mai part 1 of 2
Part 2 of Wombats go to Pai and Mae Hong Son. Click on video to play. Click on [ ] icon to play full screen.