Mae Hong Son loop, first stop Pai:
Ciaran and I recently spent time getting acquainted with the city of Chiang Mai. Although Chiang Mai is the name of the province at large, it’s also the name of the second largest city in Thailand. It’s location is in the northwest of Thailand near the Myanmar and Laos borders. Our time in Chiang Mai has sent us on the Mae Hong Son loop and our first stop is Pai. We slowly drove two hours and thirty three minutes on treacherous mountain roads, 746 curves to be exact… more like complete u-turns
and unlike anything I’ve ever driven… to get to this little town. We read that it was completely touristy and that is true to a degree. The main streets of Pai are full of hippies, backpackers, and Rustas. However, the outskirts of the “romantic” town are home to rural Thai people. There are villages mixed with resorts and resorts mixed with villages. It’s basically a blend of the developed world and the un-developed world aka first world meets third world and vice versa. There is poverty and riches and nothing to bridge the two together.
So Ciaran and I went exploring. We’ve rented a 4×4 vehicle to do the Mae Hong Son loop so that we could
venture off the paved roads. Unfortunately our vehicle came ill-equipped with mud tires let alone good tires and we weren’t able to drive off of paved roads today due to the rain and therefore muddy roads. We did try out the muddy roads and nearly got stuck, so we decided to be wise and not do that in a rental. So we will try again tomorrow if it’s not raining! We did meet Yao (pictured below) and her family. They are banana tree farmers outside of Pai and they live in a small village literally just off the side of the paved road (remember first world meets third world). I jumped out of the car and ran to greet her and neither of us could communicate to each other because I don’t speak Thai and she doesn’t speak English and we have yet to make contact with an interpreter who can help us out. She showed me her children (they are older) and I showed her mine. She asked us to come back tomorrow and she gave me two bananas. It was a glorious meeting. Here are a few photos from our time of looking for the rural people of Pai: