Travelling to any area is made infinitely better when you have a local contact that knows about the many hidden secrets it possesses. For me, that was my friend Katie, whom I worked with at Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park back in Canada for three years. In the winters, she typically lives in Pai, located three hours northwest of Chiang Mai on a winding mountain road (762 puke-inducing curves, yeehaw!), a pastoral mountain valley with a series of small friendly towns and villages, and a lazy river running through the middle of it all.
This part of Thailand is also known for its hill tribes, people who have been traditionally nomadic, having immigrated and migrated across silly imaginary lines on a map for centuries. Back in the 1970’s, there were at the centre of a troublesome drug trade, growing opium poppies to get by from year to year.
Realizing the importance of getting them out of this destructive trade, the King and Queen of Thailand initiated a program to get them to grow high value temperate zone fruits and vegetables, allowing them to interact with the Thai economy in a legitimate fashion. Today, alongside a burgeoning handicraft industry, this is what keeps these folks gainfully employed and productive in Thai society.
The pic above is of recently cleared farmland, reached by muddy pathways that needed to be negotiated with great care, as the wet Earth can lead to slippage, and potentially a motorbike on top of your legs! Ouch!
Ever been biking in Pai? Share your favourite places to go to outside of town below!