Best Kind of Lost

Best Kind of Lost

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Pai: Thailand’s Never Never Land

by Noelle
January 15 – 18

 

After spending a bit of time in Chiang Mai, we were ready for one of our increasingly-frequent getaways into the great outdoors. We hopped on a motorbike and started the 3-hour winding ride into the mountains, with plans to spend 2 nights in the much talked about town of Pai.

What they DON’T talk about is how once you venture up a few hundred feet and into the thick shade of the trees, it’s freezing cold. And since we’d left our bags in Chiang Mai to lighten the load for our short stay in Pai, we had limited clothing. So we rocked layers. Lots of layers.

Like so.

Like so.

Oh, and the 125cc motorbike we rented? NOT, in fact, equipped to climb mountains.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What we thought we looked like…

EDITOR’S NOTE: What we thought we looked like…

EDITOR’S NOTE: …and what we're pretty sure we actually looked like.

EDITOR’S NOTE: …and what we’re pretty sure we actually looked like.

But the twisted, frigid journey was well worth the frostbite as we cruised through the lush hillside.

Pai Drive 2 copy

Street Signs 762 copy

 

As was the destination. Once a quiet market village, Pai now thrives on tourism, with people of every age making the wanderer’s pilgrimage there with the promise of no responsibilities. 762 curves later (literally), we pulled up alongside the daily market and coasted down the center of town.

And right into Peter Pan’s freaking Never Never Land.

Coasting into town

Coasting into the land time forgot.

Pai River

Pai River

With nothing but open-air bars playing live music, funky coffee shops offering local teas and coffees and the promise of lazy waterfalls and sexy hot springs nearby, Lost Boys and Girls from around the globe flock to this alternative-lifestyle-friendly, shoes-optional mecca with nothing but time (and likely something a little stronger than Tinkerbell’s fairy dust) in their pockets.

Evr'y tings gonna be aight.

Evr’y tings gonna be arrright.

Street scene tea copy

DREADLOCKS! TEA! Spotted at one of the hippy refueling stations.

Two of the more atmospheric bars - Almost Famous and X

Two of the more atmospheric bars – Almost Famous and Blah Blah Bar.

Our time was filled with hours reading or dozing on haphazardly-strung hammocks, star-gazing from our porch overlooking the mountains, and strolling the streets of the night market, trying to fit in by rocking genie pants and pulling on my socks and flip flops (I really got into the role…at one point I believe I said to Dave, “If things had been different, I could have totally been a hippie.”).  All that, and of course, thinking happy thoughts.

Bungalow 1

Our first night’s bungalow was aptly named “Paradise.”

And while I think this one was called "A5" it could have also held the distinction of "Paradise."

And while I think the bungalow we made home for our second and third nights was called “A5” it could have also claimed the “Paradise” namesake.

The scene of many hours spent ignoring reality during our 2-night stay at Pai Chan Cottages.

The scene of many hours spent ignoring reality during our 2-night stay at Pai Chan Cottages.

The resident Cottage pug. Not even fairy dust could help this big guy fly.

The resident Cottage pug. No amount of fairy dust could help this big guy fly.

To warm up on the cold mornings, we partook in the traditional Thai breakfast of rice soup.

To warm up on the cold mornings, we partook in the traditional Thai breakfast of rice soup, eaten from a sidewalk cart.

The moon (or Tink? You decide.) sinking behind the mountains.

The moon (or Tink? You decide. I’ll accept answers via clapping.) rising behind the mountains.

This VW is open for business. One of the night market's more eclectic shops.

This VW is open for business. One of the night market’s more eclectic shops.

Tasty snacks from the night market. This one, despite looking like last night's reheated McD's patty was black sticky rice drizzled with a coconut syrup.

Tasty snacks from the night market. This one, despite looking like last night’s reheated McD’s patty was purple sticky rice drizzled with a coconut syrup.

And Dave's new favorite obsession: Ka-Nom-Krok – a Thai dessert made from flour, coconut milk, sugar, and salt, topped with sliced spring onion and packaged in a banana leaf. The nonsense above aside, it was basically a deep fried pudding bite.

And Dave’s new favorite obsession: Ka-Nom-Krok – a Thai dessert made from flour, coconut milk, sugar, and salt, topped with sliced spring onion and packaged in a banana leaf. The nonsense above aside, it was basically a deep fried pudding bite.

Despite the copasetic relationship between the locals and lost children, this guy makes it clear of a particular aspect he could do without.

Despite the copacetic relationship between the locals and lost children, this guy makes it clear of a particular aspect he could do without.

And ever a sucker for a good sunset, we spent an afternoon on the crest of Pai Canyon, watching the sun turn the sky vivid hues of blue, yellow and red and wishing we never had to grow up.

Views from Pai Canyon.

Perched on one of the ridges in Pai Canyon. Yes, I wore the same outfit for 3 days. I WAS TRYING TO FIT IN, PEOPLE!

Sunset views from the canyon

Sunset views from the canyon

The setting sun played ridiculous games with the clouds.

The setting sun playing ridiculous games with the clouds.

The town is charmingly full of whimsy, displayed in the eccentric hairstyle choices, fanciful shops and bars and the love-themed signage. Pai loves everyone. And everything. Needless to say, two nights turned to three pretty quickly and only the fact that the bike had to be returned eventually brought us back down the mountain.

Strawberry Pai

We’re still unsure why this exists. But who cares? STRAWBERRIES!

Whimsey everywhere.

Whimsy everywhere.

Pai's cup runneth over. For everything.

Pai’s cup runneth over. For everything.

In the end, we were glad to have chased our shadows to the land frozen in time, and were reluctant to sew them on for good. With only three months left in our year-long travels, we were starting to realize the impending realities and brainstorm frequently how to delay the inevitable.

Our solution?

Just grab the 107 to the 1021 and straight on til morning.

Clap your hands if you believe.

I shall give him a kiss.

“It is not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do that is the secret of happiness.” – J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

What do you think?

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