Our first stop on the Mae Hong Son loop was the teeny (from what I saw) town of Pai, a really cute, small, hippy, very bohemian-ish city and surprisingly – the only city we’ve been so far where people really speak English. So, the vacation chain goes something like this: to get away from Bangkok, people go to Chiang Mai; to get away from Chiang Mai, people go to Pai. On our last night in Chiang Mai, we were chatting with some waitresses at this BOMB fried chicken place (it’s called Cherng Doi b-t-dubs and SUPES cheap) and they asked us about our travels. We told them we were heading to Pai and they acknowledged that its a really nice place but very different than what it was about 10 years ago. Read: Tourists. And she was right but it didnt take away from how nice Pai is. I hope to return there someday.
Every night, there’s a bazaar with food stands, jewelry, clothing, etc. that everyone in the town walks around; it’s like a revolving door of every kind of food you can imagine. We ran into a group of travelers we had “met” at the night bazaar at a corn stand in Chiang Mai coincidentally enough at another corn stand in Pai. We chatted for a bit then decided to call it a night because we wanted to check out the caves the next day.
Yemi had the great idea to rent a motorbike to go to Cave Lod which is about 2 hours north of the city – 2 HOURS!! My gut was telling me that this is probably not the best idea however, we missed out on an opportunity to ride bikes in Chiang Mai so FOMO got the best of me so we planned to get there by 3pm, spend an hour at the caves, and then make it back before sunset. That did not happen. We did not account for the following:
+ time needed to rent the bike (i.e. paperwork)
+ Yemi needing to do a test drive to make sure she actually knew how to drive one
+ getting gas
+ missing a turn
+ max speed of a motorbike (i.e. scooter)
Despite all that, the ride was really nice (the ride there, more on the ride back later): super scenic and we had the perfect combination of sun and breeze. We arrived at the caves around 4:30 – very behind schedule – and to our luck, they matched us with probably the oldest tour guide. The guides are mandatory and rightfully so, these caves are beyond humongous and pitch black… and filled with bats. Did I mention that the guides speak zero English (score! best tour yet!).