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Published: June 19th 2006
After a sixty minute flight with plenty of turbulence to give all on board a case of the willies, it was touchdown Thailand as we arrived back in the country where our adventures began. We had been away from the country for two months and after initial problems in Cambodia when we nearly turned back, we felt almost disappointed to be leaving Laos. During our travels through Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos it was apparent all along the way how much benefit we were getting though the dollar's lack of power. It meant we had spent absolutely nothing in the last couple of months compared to Thailand where the Baht holds well, and even with our eccentric splash out on an air ticket, our budget was not significantly dented.
At arrivals we met a chef from Melbourne, Katie who works in Bangkok and rents a flat in Chaing Mai. We shared a taxi and used her knowledge of the city to point us in the direction of a decent guest house. We checked in and walked up the road, looked at another guest house, returned to the original one and checked out, and checked into Bow Chiang Mai. It wasn't that
there was much wrong with the original place, we simply got lucky and stumbled across a gem of a room with a t.v. No more conversation for us! After a couple of days looking round the local markets, visiting some hot springs that were a bit of a let down, and watching the 'Socceroo's' beat Japan in dramatic fashion 3-1 (watching football with australians is an experience no-one should miss) we headed to Pai.
Pai is a tiny town in the north west of the country that we had heard good and bad reports of. From the moment we arrived we felt the relaxed atmosphere that surrounds the place and met people that for some reason or other had been here for ages, and were stuck it seemed like glue. Its easy to see how people end up staying here for more time than they intended, as after a couple of days we were saying hello to people we met on previous days, and it seemed to be the kind of place where everyone knows everyone. Pai felt different to most places we have been, and felt more like a community and economy run solely by backpackers, i guess
it kind of is. We found a really friendly, cheap place to stay and spent the next couple of days getting into the swing of Pai's laidback attitude which suited us to the ground. We got to see some live music for the first time in ages as there were a couple of bands who play regularly in the town, one including a lonely planet travel writer Joe Cummings. If you've traveled South East Asia, you've read something by him.
Unfortunately Lucy's dreaded Bangkok bottom reared its ugly head, which allowed for only one day trip on the bike, for fear of being too far from porcelain. The only day out was fun none the less and we headed for a number of local spot including a waterfall and hot springs. The day began with rain and after a short stop in an unknown village where Lucy saw some kids with guns (spud guns would have been more harmful but she was convinced we were about to be taken hostage by eight year olds, behave!) We arrived at the waterfall to find that due to the rain our promise from the 'lonely planet' that the waterfalls were great for swimming
was broken due to the raging current, and the literature should have read that instead of a 'large pool for swimming'; the waterfalls possessed a 'large chance of drowning'. We were chased by some possibly rabid dogs after trying to find a different waterfall, snarling and barking they followed us up a dirt track where it wasn't possible to outrun them, continually snapping at Lucy's ankles to which she would swing her arms and legs wildly at them (more confusing than scary) and attemped to shout 'go' 'go' at them in Thai, completely mispronouncing the word. After the ordeal a shell shocked Lucy was a bit cross with a laughing his arse off dave, who had just witnessed a crazy woman on the back of his bike have what seemed like some kind of involuntary muscle spasm, in his rear view mirrors. We headed for the hot spring but were turned away by our refusal to pay the national park entrance fee of 200 baht (locals pay 20) not cause we're stindgy, we've paid enough of them and are just fed up of this two tear price system. We got to the Pai canyon that offered some great views of
the surrounding area and some seriously dodgy cliff top paths. Seeing all we had gone out to see Lucy spent the rest of the day in control of the bike, honing her driving skills. Determined it was possible to drive to Chiang Mai (125km) she was finally convinced to turn round and head home.
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