12 years ago i wanted to go to Pai in the far Northwest in Tahiland. I made it all the way to Chiang Mai just to read a mail from a beautiful blonde that i did meet a few weeks earlier in Napali Beach, Myanmar. She crossed the border all the way down south in Myanmar back to Thailand and would wait for me on a nice island there. Now what to do? I decided to skip Pai and head down to the Island. As usual things did not quite work out the way they should but still i made some friends down there that i still meet after all those years.
A year later was my first year in Pai. Did meet a guy from Finland and a girl from Sweden for breakfast in Chiang Mai and the guy decided on the spot to drive us to Pai with his rental car.
At the time Pai was still a small backpacker hangout, lots of Hippies, Dreads and some Expats. Only a few Lisu hill tribe woman that did sell their self made products on the street in the evening. And only a few bungalow places across the river at that time.
We did check in at Mr. Chan which had a herbal sauna at the time for the 1st night. The next night i went with the girl over the bamboo bridge and into Family Hut to Bungalow No. 1. The rest is history!
Since than i went there for 10 winters and do stay between 7 and 16 weeks every year. Than i start the rest of the trip from there.
When Bangkok money decides to make some money out of Pai things turned south for the valley and a lot of local people. Today to promote a new place what is better than make a few movies there and than see if people like the movie and go there. And that is what they did. The movies where not the best but soap opera has the most viewers i guess. I did find a review of the movies at Wise Kwai’s site.
Locals did tell me that before the movies investors from the south did get any land they could and started the building bonanza. New resorts all over the place, more streets, less trees and green. A lot of the locals had to move from their rented shops in the center as the rent went north and now the “walking street” is a nightmare in the evening. Last year they started to promote Chiang Mai and Pai in China as the interest from Thai tourist went south. Only a few Chinese made it last year but this year many of the cars in the small streets had the blue Chinese number plates. And the aya buses do spit Chinese tourist like they did before with the Thai tourists. All in all i had the feeling it was still less tourists than last winter. Lets see if the Chinese make up for the Thais that do come less than before.
Since most of the Thai tourist did stay in the fancy expensive resorts or did stay in cheap tents all over the place you really do not come into contact that much. The last 2 years i did meet and talked with more Chinese than the last 10 years with Thai tourists.
Lets see what next winter brings! So far all the Chinese i did meet where interesting and nice people, a new generation of Chinese that i look forward to meet again.
Thai-Style Romantic Getaway in Pai
For the last evening this winter a Chinese friend took me to a fancy resort up on one of the hills for a beer. Leo and his girl did tag along as well as a Chinese girl that my friend did meet a few days earlier.
Since that is the first time that i went to such a place i had to take a few pictures to show you how it is like. I have to say that i was impressed with the price for a big LEO beer: 75 Bath only!!
Now there are a lot of different resorts that cater to the Thai tourists. A new thing that popped out of nowhere is the Container resort. They take containers and paint them nice. Window and door – bed and shower and ready! Wired but why not. Before that you have to have at last some photo opportunities at your resort: Flower arrangements, benches with a view, and a sign with Pai in it for the important pictures so everybody knows you did make it all the way up here.
Sure you have to go to the Japanese World War II bridge for pictures and write a post card. A visit to the Pai in Love coffee from the movie for another picture completes that task. You only have to find the right post card shop as there are many now and the right coffee as there are so many lined up now along the road from Chiang Mai. I just did google on of the movies and scrolled a bit – great to see the “good old Pai” in some scenes again. So here are a few pictures from one of the resorts:
Waiting for the happy bride?
Pai in love! This is not the real Pai in love place but at last they have a sign so one can take a picture with it
Leo can not believe it!
Happy Chinese girl
Kidding – i only needed a nice girl to sit on the romantic bench for a picture – thanks!!
Private Chinese tour guide
Yes – a wind mill is what completes the whole place