Pai is absolutely charming. Full of travelers from all corners of the world, a true gem of Thailand. Today, my new friend Tina and I decided to rent a moterbike. We wanted to have some autonomy and move around the city easily. The first destination was a natural hot spring spot 8 miles into the hills.
We passed several bike rental spots and they were all about 100 Baht ($2.85 USD) for a 24 hour rental with a few more expensive options up to about 200 Baht. We chose the least expensive one of course, which was just a low horsepower scooter.
But when they pulled the scooter out, the first thing I noticed was the huge gash in the side of it. It looked kinda shitty but it started fine and I took some photos of it, just since we opted out of insurance.
We rode through town laughing and telling stories to each other. Riding in Thailand is exillerating! The mountains just kept growing around us as we got deeper into nature and farther from Pai. A few raindrops were falling, but the warm weather deterred any worry.
The bike was a bit rickety along the way, with one of the headlamps dangling below and a odometer that read over 600,000, we were hopeful that the bike would make it.
We were deep in the hills and started attempting an incline that seemed to get impossibly more steep indefinitely. We slowed as we were going up it with some puffs of the engine Tina yelled, “It’s not going to make it!”
Barefoot and clumsily trying to just off while holding the break, we realized we weren’t going to be able to make it up the hill. Pulling it over to the side of the road, we decided to walk the rest of the way. Trekking up and down beautiful Northern Thailand hills was on my bucket list anyways. Also, this gave us leeway to run down to a river and just dilly dally as we wished.
When we finally arrived at the hot springs, the Thai national working the ticket booth asked us how we got here and started laughing when we told him our motorbike broke down, and sold us tickets (20 Baht each or USD $0.57).
The hot spring was one of the most magical places I have ever encountered. Stepping into warm shallow clear water the baths extended into several large ponds that were separated by waterfalls. Totally blissed out, I swam/floated around for over an hour.
Just as we were starting to walk, my friend Tina grabbed my arm and said, ” I think they’re trying to tell us something,” and a Thai man was waving us down and waving his friend down. And then he gave us a ride to our bike! I was so happy because the rain had really started picking up. I jumped in the back of his truck and we flew up the mountain. It was actually a bit scary how quickly we swung around turns because my body would go sliding across the truckbed. But that only happened once before I got much more solid hand holds.
Once we got back to the bike, he also helped us by riding to a safer starting point a little down the hill!
I really wanted to go to one of the waterfalls surrounding Pai, but we decided no more hills for the bike. And the Pai canyons were wonderful. Soaring paths of only a few feet wide jutted up in the air. Being fond of heights, I saw this place as a playground and ran down the paths!
We were about 8 km away from our hostel now, and about 5 minutes into our drive, the engine just randomly completely died. We were sitting on the side of the road in the dark and another local motorbike driver pulled over to help us call the rental company. We sat there swatting a mosquitos and waiting to get picked up. Finally, at the end of the day they at least gave us a free upgrade.