A sleepy town of only 3,000 residents (with probably twice that number in kale-chip-devouring hippie expats from the UK), Pai has transformed from a small rest stop along the much further route to Mae Hong Son, and turned itself into a backpacker destination in itself. Comprising a grand total of 3 primary roads, the majority of the town can be walked in less than 20 minutes, with almost every building representing the "brain-child" of a health-conscious expat owner. From a mix of ridiculously cheap restaurants, bars and sugar-free fruit shake stands (have you noticed the "health" trend yet?) to second-hand bookstores and bike rental shops, for most, this tiny village is an opportunity to experience the slower-pace of life Thailand is world-renowned for.
For us, our 3 days spent in pure relaxation (aka pool-side hanging, Friday Night Lights watching, and the occasional book reading), at an amazing rice paddy/mountain-view bungalow for all of $18/night, had only one slight obstacle - A 3 (but basically 5) hour windy/hilly/swervy/curvy motobike ride from Chiang Mai. Encompassing all of 762 turns (yes, someone decided to count), the typical path from Chiang Mai to Pai involves a vomit-inducing van ride which, while very enticing-sounding, was exchanged for a slighter sorer ass, and a handful of near-death motobiking experiences. With Julie resting semi/not-so-semi comfortably behind me, the majority of our journey was spent carefully navigating every one of the 762 turns, most taken at a pace so slow, Miss Daisy probably would have encouraged an opening of the throttle. Yet, with the alternative involving a visit to the overly-populated Pai hospital (apparently kept in business 24/7 thanks to the booming "i've-never-ridden-a-motobike-so-may-as-well-learn-now" trend), we decided to keep ourselves scab free for the interim.
Overall, our drive to (and from, despite a conveniently-timed cold-front/rain-storm) were completed in relative safety, with only 2 near-fatal experiences from, what I can only assume, were local Thai's testing my motobike riding skills. And despite returning to Chiang Mai with a slight limp and/or waddle from our ass-numbing journey, the relaxing time spent in Pai was well worth every regurgitation-free turn.
Onto the pics: