Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Amazing Chiang Mai Trip Part I: Pai

It had been almost like a dream for my trip to Chiang Mai, where everything seems too beautiful and nice. Chiang Mai is a nice place at the North of Thailand, where it is safe from the flood and shooting at the South of Thailand. Thailand is a very affordable and friendly place, and the North is filled with nature attraction, thus make it a good choice for us.

On Sunday night, I spent a night at Tang’s place so that we can share a cab together to the airport the next morning. She packed a big pack of food for me to chuck into the my already full bag, with all sorts of biscuits and energy bar, and waterproof bags as well. It is always nice to travel with girls, as they always bring along much stuff with them such as all kinds of medicine, shampoo, food and alike. Last time Mickey also has a pack filled with all kind of goodies. Just in case I forgot or don’t have any of them, I can always count on them. Tang’s bed is not so mini after all, and then the bed must be very big for her size. I am quite dependent on her in this trip, as she organises almost everything. I didn’t even bother to remember the itinerary, I am so bad. But I have faith in her, since she is the expert of travel. She even help me to get a good bargain on a 45L travel bag and a body pouch, so she is really good in this kind of stuff. Trust the expert, hehehe.

We have to wake up very early in the morning to take a cab to KLIA. We will fly by AirAsia, but our ticket is more expensive as we didn’t book early (as it is quite a last minute decision). It cost us around RM 800 for 2 ways, while we could save about a hundred plus if we book weeks ahead, and it would only cost us RM 300 or less if we booked months ahead. Lesson of the day: Plan ahead and buy the air ticket very early. But since I am in the mood for a year end holiday and I don’t plan to be a spoiler, thus the few hundred extra should be well justified. Besides, I have good companies.

Outside Siam Sun HQ with Daniel

The flight took about two and half-hours, and I manage to take a nap. We arrived at Chiang Mai safe and sound (10 minutes earlier), where a female tour agent of Siam Sun, Karteh pick us up (she look like Patchara from my previous working trip in Bangkok). Most people in Thailand drive a big pickup truck look alike transport, to carry more passenger and goods, and also to travel in the outskirts easily in bad road condition. We meet Daniel (a Swiss), the agency manager. Karteh is his colleague and same house girlfriend, and both of them been divorced before.

After some document handling and payment plus lots of question by Tang (is good to have her as my travel buddy), Daniel start driving us to Pai. Pai is about 100 KM from Chiang Mai, through some hill roads (something like the uphill road to Cameron Highlands). The outskirt scenery of Thailand is fantastic, with lots of greenery and paddy field. The uphill road scenery is pretty amazing as well, with small little colourful flowers and some pine tree in between. We stop by a very nice café to have lunch half way through, and the place is filled with amazing landscape in Japanese style. The food did take quite a long while to arrive, but the environment is really nice and comfortable. It has nice pond with dragonfly, a mini vegetable farm, a Japanese style café house, nice plants and mini statue, and an amazing mountain view as well. I really like that place a lot (I need to extract the photos from my video, as Tang didn’t take any picture of this place).

We continue our drive by going from hill to hill, with nice scenery and cool breeze along the way. The entire journey took us about 2 hours before we reach Pai town, but we stop by at a nearby hot spring. There are numerous hot spring and geyser along the way. This particular hot spring near Pai Town is unique in the sense that the boiling water from the hot spring meet with the cool water from a nearby stream, thus make it a perfect place to soak your body. They even have private mini pools built by blocking the waters with sandbags. They even sell some eggs for boiling at the hot spring, and make sure you don’t step your legs in them. The smell of sulphur is strong around the hot spring, but not unbearable.

Amazing Paddy/Onion Field

Amazing Grass Field with Mountain View

At last we reach Pai town and the place is simply amazing, with paddy/onion fields, temples, wooden house, sunflower, little wild flowers, lots of greenery, mountain and river views. We stay at La Teresa, a mini resort on top of a small hill with amazing view. There are only 3 unit of chalets, but they are clean and nice. The place actually looks quite romantic and suitable for couple honeymoon kinda trip. The weather is cold and we have hot waters, yeah!

La Teresa

The Pai Town is just 5 minutes work away, and the town is simply amazing. The town is small and simple, but unique. Unique in the sense that there are nice many European restaurants in this place, with a mix of local Thai food. There are laundry shop and Internet café everywhere, it really a backpacker’s heaven. We have many Thai junk food for dinner while walking and sightseeing along the lively street. At the end, we stop by an Italian (or izzit French) ice-cream shop and the ice cream is simply cheap and amazing. The weather is cold, which make the ice-cream taste even better. I think I had fallen in love with this town, as it is remote and beautiful, yet sophisticated with a European taste. It really feels like heaven on earth, in one way or another.

Me & Tang

Me & Li Mun

Tomorrow we are going hiking up many hills and stay over night there, which is another amazing experience.

Photo Link: Tang's DropShot 1, 2, 3

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