Our first weekend in Thailand, our community manager Travis organized an overnight trip to Pai. Pai is a small town in the mountains a few hours away from Chiang Mai, and is known for being a bit of a hippy backpacker town and for a stunning but somewhat dangerous road between the two cities. A bunch of people rented scooters and rode to Pai, but I opted for the bus. It was a long, windy ride that made all of us a little queasy, full of hairpin turns and beautiful cliff and jungle views – we even made a stop at a huge canyon.
We stayed overnight at Kirina Retro House, probably the strangest resort I’ve ever been to. Each cabin was themed, ranging from underwater to candy to Disney characters, and when I say themed, I mean they really went all out with the decorations. We hung out by the pool, watched the stars at night, and spent quality time together.
Pai itself was exactly as described: a sleepy backpacker town with not much going on, but plenty of opportunity to party. We went out for a while one of the nights, marveling at the loud DJ and bright disco lights contrasted against the Thai rasta band that was on just before.
The highlight of my trip to Pai was learning to scoot! We practiced a bunch in the driveway of our resort, and even went down one of the quiet country roads. It was super fun and I wished I was staying longer so I could scoot around town.
The next day, we checked out a hot spring in one of the national parks nearby and had a laid-back lunch before heading back to Chiang Mai. Overall, I’d say Pai is probably not worth a visit on its own, but not a bad stopping point between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, and a good jumping off point for mountain trekking.
The rest of the week was pretty low-key. We had our monthly Junction, which had a ton of turnout from the local expat community and a presentation by well-known Johnny FD. He’s been active in the Chiang Mai expat community for years, and runs a couple of networking events that several of us attended the first week. I wasn’t sure how it would go, since I had gotten the sense from some folks that there’s a bit of a hierarchy/sense of entitlement in the expat community in Chiang Mai. Those that have been in Chiang Mai for longer look down on more recent arrivals. I found it pretty ironic since it goes against the whole concept of the digital nomad lifestyle, but never felt any antagonism personally. The Junction ended up going really well, and I was particularly impressed by fellow Remote Matt’s funny and touching talk about how much he’s grown on Remote Year.
Travis organized a Secret Santa gift exchange early on in the month, and there were 3 weeks of gift-giving. I had no idea who my Santa was, but my favorite gift was a handmade woven bracelet with a shell. I later found out it was Arestia, and that shell came from Monkey Beach, which made it that much more special. I wear it every day as a constant reminder of the value of being open to unexpected experiences.
Another chill, easy week came and went in Chiang Mai – I worked poolside at Burisiri Hotel, enjoying the great weather, I ate the signature blue noodles at Anchan, and I met up with a friend from high school for brunch at Blue Diamond after wandering around Old Town and marveling at the temples.
I was ready for the next two weeks of excitement and travel as my main squeeze Sean came to visit for the third and last time!