Mai, Pai, Rai

My deepest and most sincerest apologies! I have been in Thailand for over three weeks and I have not blogged about my adventures so far. I have been pretty busy with the Youtube channel, as well as updating Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. So not completely silent!

I have over 2 hours worth of videos to add. So far I have added a few brief videos over my adventures in Chiang Mai and Pai.

Before arriving to Thailand I spent the night in KL. My flight from JB was delayed for  hours due to the haze blowing over from Indonesia. I stayed at PODS Backpackers hostel in the Brickfields area. It was near to KL Sentral and I could easily hop on the 35RM train back to the airport from there. FYI, If you cut through the mall and the alley to the back road, you will be there quicker. I followed Google maps and it took 15 minutes, whereas through the NUSentral mall was only 8. It was pleasant. There is a little café downstairs with free toast and drinks for breakfast. My only issue is that I asked for a bottom bunk and still got placed in a top bunk. I don’t know if this is an Agoda thing or not, but it is the 2nd time my request was not fulfilled.

As I said, there is the KLIA Express train from KL Sentral into KLIA and KLIA2. The cost is only 35RM and you can pay with your Touch and Go card, or buy a ticket at the counter. I will upload the video here once I am finished editing it with the steps to take.

The arrival process went well. On the plane from Kuala Lumpur you receive an arrival and departure form. Fill those out and hand over to the person at the counter when you hand over your passport. I used my Dutch passport, but I know for the USA as well that visa is on arrival (VOA). Double-check and see if your country is also a VOA.

I had 3 other colleagues also on my flight, so it was nice to travel with others and chat whilst waiting to board!

When we landed there are metered taxis as well as tuktuks and songthaews (modified pickup trucks) The cost is around 30-50Baht from the airport to the Night Market area.

My hostel was called Finlay and it was right along Loi Kohr road. Super nice! You can check out that video here. After 2 days I stayed at 2 other places, Stay with Me and around the corner from there, Mini Guesthouse. Both are located by Mcdonalds. SWM is behind the McDs. They had 3 cute dogs and Shino was the most playful one. I will definitely recommend staying there or at Finlay. It was 350 Baht per night with shared bath. For two days at Finlay, I  also paid a total of 350 baht. Mini was only 150, but you get what you pay for, is all I will say.

On the 4th was World Animal Day, and I marched for elephant and rhinos rights against the ivory trade. This was sponsored by Elephant Nature Park. Check out that video here. A lot of fun and a great opportunity to showcase the plight of elephants. My first, and hopefully not last march, for animals and their welfare.

Central Festival was a great mall in the city to escape to from the heat. There is a free shuttle going every two hours from the mall to the city. The city itself is small and easy to walk in or cycle.

Now to Pai. Amazing little town up in the mountains. It took a nauseating 3 hours up the winding mountain. Dramamine becomes your friend! The cost was only 180 Baht and the ticket can be purchased from any agent in town.

I stayed at a so-so guesthouse once I got to Pai. I didn’t book anything in advance. Most places are located along the main road from where the bus drops you off. There are only 3 stoplights in town, so it is not hard to find someplace to stay! 150 nightly was all I had to pay at 2001 Guesthouse. My only complaints would be that it needed a good paint job and newer sheets. But for the cost, it was reasonable and I had my own private bath and patio.

The main attractions in Pai include visiting the Mae Yen Waterfall and the hot spring. I didn’t do the hot spring although I should have after the massive hike to the waterfall. 7km and 4 hours later we made it there! Here is a tip, if you see a very friendly dog, follow her. She knows the way! That was what the farmer told us before we started our trek into the jungle. All we had to do was feed her along the way and help her over some tricky rocks in the water.

So 4 hours there and back. By the end of it my feet, hip, thighs, heck! Everything!! Was sore. A good Thai massage and 3 days of soreness later and I felt better. But it is definitely worth it. Just pack a good bit of food and water for your journey.

Pai really wakes up a bit during nighttime, Sunset Bar remains open late, and along the main strip turns into the night market. As it is October and coming at the end of the rainy season, I had to pick up a shawl and poncho as I was freezing. Not to mention, they came in handy in even colder Chiang Rai.

After a few days, I paid the 550Baht at Green Terminal agency and took the 7 hour plus journey over to Rai. They stopped off in Mai for a bit so we grabbed some food. Myself and a few others all pretty much agreed that the ride down was worse than the ride up the mountain to Pai.

I arrived late at night, but the bus stops at a 711 across from the bus terminal. From there I had to walk a few minutes to my hostel. Mercy hostel has got to be one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in. Private pool, kitchen, really nice loos and beds as well. The staff were super friendly and helpful. Dorm rooms were 190baht per night.

Chiang Rai is famous for its White Temple and Black House. The Black House is more artsy and it had more of a meditative park feel. I took the public bus to both. From the bus terminal you can catch the blue city bus for 20 baht to the White Temple. Just tell the attendant and they will tell you where to get off. You can see it from the roadside and it is free to enter. I have been told that a songthaew is also 20baht back to the city if you do not feel like waiting for a bus.

Once back to the bus terminal, I got onto the green bus to Maesai/ Maechan. That was also 20 baht and it also took 30 minutes like the White Temple. The attendant told me where to get off and I had to walk straight along the side road to the Black House. Also free entry.

Another thing you can do in Rai is visit the Myanmar/ Burma border. It is about a 2 hour drive away via public bus. To be honest, unless you are going into the country it isn’t worth it. To get there, it will cost 39 baht each way on the green Maesai bus from the bus terminal. I also suggest walking with your passport as there will be two police checks along the way. They pretty much checked the ids and bags of the Thais and Burmese. I know that opium production and distribution is big business that way.

After a few days in Rai I returned to Mai. I stayed at both Julie and Diva’s guesthouses. Both are super nice. The staff at Diva were very friendly and helpful. I paid 120 and then 180 for either a fan or AC dorm room at Diva. At Julie I paid 190 for an AC dorm.

My most expensive purchases were the elephant tour and the massage course. I took a two day foot reflexology course at Sabaideka. It is near the Burger King along the river. That was 3500 baht. There are numerous massage places in town and I later found a cheaper one that taught the same thing along the same road as Diva.

I did the elephant tour with Elephant Nature Park. There are so many tours that include riding or elephant performances. These I will not recommend as the elephants are often mistreated.  There are also other elephant sanctuaries, and as of October 19th, I read that several other riding parks will turn into sanctuaries as well. The cost with ENP was 2500 baht and it lasted from 8am until 5pm. There was also a large vegetarian buffet meal provided at the park. I will also add the videos of that event here.

In my opinion, the best way to see Pai or Chiang Mai is to rent a bicycle. It is generally 50 baht, and either a 1000 baht deposit, or a license. Never leave your passport as a deposit! Some places will accept a copy of your passport. Since I had 2 international driver licenses, I left one of them as my deposit.

At the moment there is the Asian Vegetarian Festival in Chiang Mai. So much amazing food! This place is perfect if you a re a vegan or a vegetarian. You will not be left hungry if you are a vegetarian!

DSC_0796 Chiang Mai bike sharing programme

DSC_0848 Bells in Doi Suthep

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