It is always hot, bustle and hustle in Bangkok, Thailand, so although having been to the city for many times, I am not able to be in love with the city. However, everything is totally different in the north of Thailand. Let’s follow me to indulge yourself with Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Pai.
Become a forest man in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is about 800 km to the north from the capital of Bangkok. From the capital city, there are various option of transport to travel to Chiang Mai including plane, train, or bus. We decided to travel by train to save energy after the journey lasting 12 hours from Siem Reap. However, it was a bad choice for our tour. After 14 hours on the train, the train stopped in a forest area due to its engine problem. After above 30 minutes, the train still did not work, so all the travelers were transferred to the buses to continue the journey. We arrived in Chiang Mai after almost 2 hour later.
12 hours from Siem Reap and nearly 20 hours from Bangkok, we finally reached Chiang Mai. However, our unpleasant feeling and tiredness were ease due to the fresh and cool climate of Chiang Mai in February. Compared to 3 years ago when I first came to Chiang Mai, it‘s almost unchanged. The landscapes remains gentle and romantic with the watercourse running along the city center making the city a peaceful beauty.
I visit Chiang Mai with a strong determination of to become a “forest man” there. Chiang Mai can bring tourists with a number of interesting activities including the bicycle tour conquering the winding roads, the walking tour discovering the dense forest or the tour to visit the ethnic village, especially the famous group of Karen with their long neck. However, my most attractive tour is to become a forest man.
In the morning, the bus of travel agency came to pick us up very early. The thing in common between all tourists on the bus is the exciting facial expression. From the city, the bus ran for around 20 km and then turned to a little road and then climbed to the high slopes on the mountain side. The higher the road is, the narrower it shall be with the dangerous bends that make me dizzy. When I felt like cannot stand more, the bus stopped in front of a vast dense jungle.
The name of “forest man” is my way own way of talking about a famous games in Chiang Mai called Jungle Flight or Flight of Gibbon. After being equipped with protecting equipment and told about the strict regulation, we were divided into several group and taken to the forest.
Firstly, we had to walk deeply into the forest. For the first experience of becoming a forest man, we climbed to a wood ladder surrounding the tree trunk and then stand on a large wood floor above the ground which made me think of the house on the tree which I always dreamed of when I was a child. The firm strings are tied from this trunk to the others at the height of several dozen meter from the ground and our task was to hang our body on the string and slide.
Although I was really excited about the game, but for the first time, I was really nervous with my eye closed tightly. However, after several time trying on the game, I became a professional Tazan. The feeling of rocking through the tree trunks and admiring the forest from above while breathing the typical air of the dense forest; feeling the moist in the air comes into the skin shall be one of the most memorable impression during the trip.
High Sea in the mountainous area of Chiang Rai – North of Thailand
After 3 days of visiting and relaxing in Chiang Mai, we decided to hit the road to Chiang Rai in an early morning. Instead of travelling by bus, we hired motorbikes and packed our pack to start the tour. Chiang Rai is about 180 km from Chiang Mai to the north which is a very famous destination with Golden Triangle in the past.
If Chiang Mai is said to be the miniature of Bangkok, Chiang Rai can be the miniaturized model of Chiang Mai. The higher to the north region, the colder it is in the morning and the more sunshine it is during the day. My first impression on Chiang Rai are the little and pretty guest houses with quiet gardens. It is very cold in Chiang Rai at night which we needed to wear winter clothes before getting lost in a night market with a series of products and the cuisine sector with hundreds of attractive Asian and European dishes.
We spent all 3 nights in Chiang Rai at the night market and then Reggae bar nearby the guest house we stayed. This is a very interesting bar where all the staff have their deadlock hair. The space is outstanding with decorations in Reggae colors. Tourists sitting there are all fascinated with the music, the stories with some bottles of beer, with the small talks with the host who was not able to speak English and I also did not speak in Thai language. In Chiang Rai, 3 had my all 3 night sleeping with the sound of Reggae music resounded in my mind.
Different from my determination of becoming a forest man in Chiang Mai, my friend decided to get the experience of wake-board sliding in Chiang Rai. Wakeboard is a kind of surfing game with the support from a special canoe which is able to create waves. In that whole day, we with the help of the map found the way to come to the attraction called Chiang Rai Beach. It sounds strange as how can we find a beach in such a mountainous area.
In fact, Chiang Rai Beach is a immense lake with quiet water which is about 20 km from the city center. Coming to the place you have chances to join in various water games and sports besides the game of wake-board which requires your experience and technique. There is also a small sand dune for sunbathing. I sat on the canoe and watched for my friend to play the game of surfing. The canoe ran with very high speed around the lake within 30 minutes which give me the chance to see the trees and little oasis in the middle of the lake. It is such a memorable experience.
Charming Pai in my eyes – Travel north of Thailand
Coming to Pai is the decision of both of us. We asked around from the first day in Chiang Rai for the way to come to Pai without backing Chiang Mai. However, all the people we asked said that it’s better to come back to Chiang Mai as it is the unique way. Finally, we bought a map to the Northern Thailand and spent 1 night to seek for the road to Pai from Chiang Rai. We were not sure that we can reach the destination, but we dared to do with the hope that the roads shall lead us to some other places with some more interesting experience. We then hit the road.
Following the map, we need to travel back from Chiang Rai to the North Pole for above 30 km before turning to a little road in parallel with the border of Myanmar. Amazing, it was the most wonderful road during our journey. The landscapes on the 2 roadsides change continuously with the vast forests, the valleys in mist, and the hills overlapping on each other. Sometimes, we stopped on the high slopes to look at the below little roads that we had passed and feel excited. After above 7 km with the route of 340 km, we finally arrived in Pai.
Pai is a little town in Mae Hong Son province. The pretty, gentle, charming and friendly Pai makes me forgot the returning road. I love Pai with a true and unchangeable love that I called the town “my Pai”.
During the day, Pai is sweet and gentle with the sunshine in honey color and fragrance. The town in evening is warm with the street stalls for foods, the little lanes and unique cafes. Coming to Pai, all the busy and bustle daily life shall be hidden behind the slopes and replaced by the laziness and the impartiality in your mind. In this town, I can spend some hours just to sit in “Coffee in love” in a late evening or hide myself in a small corner of a bar in a small lane to do nothing and think nothing but to feel the super pleasant feelings in my heart and soul. I love Pai and will forever call it “my Pai”.
We finally need to get back to Chiang Mai in a morning to get the bus back to Bangkok. It was a bot the same to the fare well 3 year before between me and Pai and also the north of Thailand, I was not upset, but happy and ready to come back home to plan for the next trip to back to this land for more several times.