15th Nov 2019 / Thailand
Photo: Sunset at Pai's canyon
The fun started in the morning when we tried planning where to go next on our trip. We were now making separate plans to our friends Claire and Luna who were going to stay on in this area for a bit more time.
We want to head to Laos and take the 'slow boat' down a section of the Mekong river. The question was do we take the easy pre-organised tour or try and organise it ourselves. We decided to go with the organised tour, only slightly more expensive, it included the 2 buses, a nights accomodation and the boat tickets. We tried to pay by card but they only accepted Visa, I only had a Mastercard.
We popped out to one of the various ATM's that lined the main street to withdraw cash. Card declined. I checked my PIN and tried in a different ATM. Card declined again. I opened my Startling Bank app and started chatting with the bank who said there was nothing wrong with my card.
It was now nearly lunch time and we were due to head out on an half day site-seeing tours in 40 minutes. We postponed the ticket purchases to the evening and rushed back to our hotel to get ready for the tour.
The tour included the top sights around Pai. First off, the White Buddha, a huge white Buddha on the mountain side, accessed by an even bigger stairway, OK on a cool day, but by now it was 30 degrees in the shade. Arriving at the top 'slightly warm' we were greeted with great views of both the Buddha and the surrounding countryside.
Next stop, a view point on the other side of the valley overlooking the city of Pai. The Chinese village was next, not too impressed so we cowered in the shade ready for the next stop, 'Coffee in Love', a house with coffee shop made famous by featuring in a couple of Thai films.
From here we went to the Bamboo Bridge. Our driver who spoke limited english just said "20 minutes, 800m" and pointed in the direction over the rice fields. We headed off and paid the small entry fee to help the upkeep of the bridge. We started walking on an elevated bamboo walkway. I walked ahead of Gaby to get more time at the bridge to take some photos. At the end of the walkway was a small temple, but no sign of the bridge. I asked someone if this was the right way to the bridge and they said I had just walked over it! It turns out the Bamboo bridge was actually a bamboo walkway, the one I had just been walking on for the last 6 or 7 minutes. Slightly bemused I walked back, this time paying more attention to the actual walkway.
The sun was beginning to set and we briefly stopped at a small waterfall; probably not the one advertised as part of the trip, as it was quite disappointing. We were hastily driven to the last stop on out trip, the canyon, no mention of the other two stops we seemed to have missed out. The canyon was Pai's answer to the Grand Canyon, although it wasn't that grand. We were here to see the sunset over the canyon. Sounds quite romantic, but watching it with the hundreds of other tourists took some of the romance away, and sweating in 30 deg heat was't that romantic either. The actual sunset today was anything but spectacular.
We were dropped of back on the 'Walking Street', in the centre of Pia, so called becaus it is cut off to traffic every afternoon and turned into a pedestrian street where locals set up their food and handicraft stands.
I returned to a cash machine and was in luck this time (at least with getting some money out). We went to book the tour only to find it was full until Monday. We sat in the tour office while looking suitably interested in their tours so we could actually just used their internet to plan out trip elsewhere. This involved booking all parts of the trip using public transport, including one compay online where my bank card was again declined. We ended up planning an extra night in Pai which wasn't such a bad thing as it's such a nice place. After about 2 hours we had everything sorted, but had worked up quite an appetite. We walked up and down the 'walking street' a number of times as Gaby decided which food stand she was going to try next.
We walked back to the hotel tired but suitably fed and happy we had a plan and tickets for the next few days.
Map: Where we ended up today