Pai, Northern Thailand
I spent the last week in Pai which is about 3 hours north of Chiang Mai nestled in the mountains. The journey from Chiang Mai to Pai is quite famous for its beauty and fun driving. You will experience 762 curves on this ride up that consists of switch backs and sharp curves through the jungle mountains of Northern Thailand. There are a ton of bikers that take this ride bc of this. You can't help but feel like a motorbike racer around these turns, and with a powerful bike you were the fastest thing on the road (this is good thing bc you don't want vehicles passing you). Don't let the popularity fool you though, it is a very dangerous road. Parts are unpaved, without cell service, pot holes, and changing conditions are all things to prepare for on this journey. I saw 3 different flipped over vehicles on the way to Pai alone. Once there you'll notice it is quite smaller than Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. It has a mountain hippie backpacker vibe. The city consists of a main "walking street", which is used primarily for the night market where you could buy anything from hand made soaps and meat skewers, to sweet crepes and waffles. There are numerous hot springs to relax in and cool hiking areas such as Pai canyon. There is also a huge white buddha that is nestled in the mountains that overlook Pai, plus you can see it from the center city which I thought was pretty cool. I think my favorite part of Pai was the music scene. Almost every bar featured live music and you could hear anything from American classics to live Dj's playing Techno. Plus I could walk down the street without getting barked at by prostitues! The average price of the rooms at a hostel was about $6 US dollars. Food you could expect to pay 60-120 Baht ($1.50-$3) and drinks about the same. The street market food ranged from 5-60 baht ($0.15-$1.75) . Massages 150-350 baht ($4.50- $9). Cheap!
About 10 min outside the city was where I attended a yoga retreat with Xhale Yoga. The week consisted of 3 daily yoga classes that ranged from Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) to Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation). We also had vegetarian eating (actually very good!), nasal cleansing, and mediation 2x daily. The goal was purification of the mind, body and soul. I was expecting to be relaxed, and "lighter" by the time it was over which I definitely was. What I didn't expect was to meet a group of amazing people that I would connect so well with. The instructor Bhud was such an amazing and loving person that made the whole experience really magical. By the end of the retreat we all were like family and it really made the experience special. I made a small clip of the retreat. Click here to watch it! I really fell in love with Pai would recommend it to anyone looking for some escape from the "noise" and wants to enjoy life.
One of the biggest take aways I had from the retreat was one day during our Yoga philosophy session we talked about "stealing." Not the materialistic things, but more time and energy. How do you steal these things you might ask? You are the one stealing, no one else can steal your time and energy. Waiting, waiting for you to be off work, waiting for the weekend, waiting for your next vacation. When you "wait," you immediately stop enjoying the moment and essentially living life. You know how you feel sometimes right before your next vacation, you can be a waste at work and just be ready to escape. Why escape though, the vacation will still come, why not enjoy each moment until then. I was an offender for sure and can remember sometimes at work before a day off or even shortly before closing you "check out." I stole so much of my time and energy. This is something that I will do my best at moving forward when I feel myself "checking out." Tomorrow is not promised and time is precious. Things will come up that you may think will waste your time, that's all mental, only you can decide whether its wasting your time. Everything that happens is a lesson or a blessing.
The good: Everything lol! Cheap food and accommodations, excellent music scene, welcoming community, beautiful scenery.
The bad: It will make you want to change your plans to stay longer there!
Check out my Thailand photos here!