After a day with the scooters, Scotty and I had the bug, the motorbike bug. We where both in total agreement that the way to get to Pai, a city about 100K farther north than Chaing Mai, near the Thai-Burma boarder was to rent motorbikes and drive them out there. We knew the roads where mountainous, and it was a pretty good distance to drive, so we logically concluded that a bigger faster bike was a much better idea than taking a 100cc scooter.
We headed into the city in search of bigger bikes. The first place we came across had a variety of weird mini 100cc street bikes, and big 250 cc dirt and street bikes. Since I have never driven a clutch bike, and the fact that they were 3 times the price, we decided to flag the idea. We negotiated with the guy for the mini street bikes and went to find an ATM to get cash. On the search for the ATM we came across Mr. Beer, a motorbike renter (note the irony) He had these 150cc small street bikes that seemed like a good compromise between a bigger, heavy bike that I probably couldn’t handle, and the mini bikes we had almost rented. The best part was that they where all the same price, about $5 USD a day!
So that was it, we left a passport with Mr. Beer, climbed onto the bike, and I stalled it instantly. Luckily I get how a clutch works so the next try I nailed it and started to creep down the street. We strapped our backpacks on, and headed out of the city to the open road.
We drove through several towns, on the main motorway for about 50 kilometers. We then reached our turnoff onto the smaller road that lead into the mountains and to Pai. The road winded up, with tight switch back corners and blind hairpin turns. We drove past little villages and rivers. It was the dry season and amazingly hot. Everything was brown and parched, and the air was heavy with smoke from the farmers burning the underbrush from the fields. As we drove it was like being hit with a hot air dryer.
It took us a solid 4 hours, and we finally pulled into Pai, after a few close calls, numb feet and asses from the vibrating bike. It ended up being a mellow night finding accommodation and walking around the small city getting our bearings. We found a chill little bar and played a few rounds of pool on a severely warped table.
In the morning, we headed out to a waterfall that was pretty much bone dry, and drove out to a small secluded village among dry rice fields tucked in a small valley.
In the afternoon we moved to these really cool separated bungalows just out of town along the main river.
The next few days where spent basically laying around during the day to try and cope with the 107 degree heat. At night it cooled a bit, and we chilled at possibly the most amazing bar set up I have ever been too. Multi level bamboo tiers cascaded out over the river, and highlighted bamboo tepee structures framed the corners and boundaries of the bar. A rough paddle wheel finished off the surroundings. Although I knew this was all built for tourist, I was intrigued and delighted at the creativity in the designed space, and ingenuity in use of material and construction methods.
The next morning we headed back to drop the bikes off, and catch a shuttle to the Thai-Laos border. We where on our way to a 3 week tour of one of the “poorest” and “undeveloped” countries on the planet.