Friday

We woke up and packed up, strapped our backpacks to our bikes, and left Chiang Mai, but not before making a detour to Thailand's only Cat Cafe.

A while back someone posted a list on Facebook of all the Cat Cafes around the world. As soon as I saw there was one in Thailand I knew we would have to go. Catmosphere was visible from a mile away with its sign decorated in old school movie theater light bulbs. We rode up and read the sign on the front door that asked us to please wait for someone to let us in. The guy working there promptly came outside to greet us and asked us to put on a pair of slippers and wash our hands. Then we walked into a cafe full of cats and space decorations. These weren't just your typical Thailand strays either, these were gorgeous designer kitties with coats that looked like wild animals. We sat down, ordered a couple of coffees, and spent an hour or two playing with a room full of kitties. One little white cat in particular named Luna sprawled across me and just kept purring away. After we'd had our fill of feline fun we made our way to Pai.

When we made it into town we had to pull out google maps to find our way over to our hotel, Reverie Siam. We actually had to pull over several times because it ended up being down a poorly marked dirt road. The resort was absolutely charming and had a sort of vintage country chic vibe. I don't usually include descriptions from hotel websites but theirs is worth a read:

Reverie Siam is a concept Resort inspired by the cultural fusion that occurred in the early part of the 20th century. Circa 1925, The Great War has been over for nearly a decade. Prohibition in the States has given birth to Speakeasies with musicians such as Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong providing the soundtrack. New advances in transportation allow those hungry for adventure and wealth to try their luck in new Lands, in our case Southeast Asian Lands. For those fortunate enough to be successful an easy decadent existence follows. The fashions and trends they import with them merge into the local cultures and an intoxicating blend ensues. We celebrate this blend, choosing to remember as if by the dreams of those who might have participated long ago, in those heady days of romance, adventure and elegance.

As I said before, the resort was charming. The pathway to our room wove through a labyrinth of hedges with several dead ends. Our room was a large open room decorated exactly how you might imagine from the descriptions above. There was an equally spacious bathroom with a luxurious tub and our back door led to a private garden with a view of the mountains in the distance. It all felt very homey.

We dropped off our bags and then made our way back to the lobby area where there was a bar. We ordered a beer and a cider and then asked for a transfer into town. We were dropped off at the end of one of two walking streets that were perpendicular to each other. These streets were lined with food stalls and souvenir stands and all sorts of cool little shops and cafes and bars. Our first impressions of Pai were of a cool mountain town that we could easily get lost in for a couple of weeks.

We wandered the streets and ended up having noodle soup for dinner. By the end of our wandering we had decided to stay for an extra night, so we made our way back to the hotel to see if we could stay an extra night but they were booked. Fletch knows how to find cool places to stay though, and ended up finding us another hotel equally as unique.

Saturday

We slept in and then made our way to the restaurant and sat down at a table overlooking the gardens and hedge labyrinths. We were presented with menus with the most varied assortment of breakfast dishes I had seen in Thailand. To make it even better, the top of the menu said "choose two dishes and two beverages." There was a column of savory dishes and a column of sweet dishes; a list of teas and coffees and a list of juices. My breakfast consisted of a cappuccino, passion fruit juice, an avocado omelette, and cappuccino french toast. I was suddenly sad we wouldn't be able to stay here an extra night.

We went back to the room to pack up and as we were packing up I came to the sickening realization that my bracelet was gone. For our one year anniversary, Fletch had given me a beautiful Pandora charm bracelet. I treasured the thing and wore it constantly, only now it wasn't on my wrist. I tore my luggage apart looking for it and wondered if I had gone the entire previous day without realizing it was gone since I had been wearing a long sleeved jacket. Whatever the case it was nowhere to be found and I was sick over it.

The hotel was kind enough to give us a transfer over to our next hotel, and I left the reception with a description of my bracelet should they find it. We made our way over to Montis Resort which felt like an African safari lodge. Our room wasn't ready so we went over to the cafe and drank coffee. When our room was ready we were transported there via one of the resort's buggies which seemed like a futuristic version of a golf cart.


Our room was one of these little bungalows and inside was a perfectly round room except for the back quarter of the circle which was walled off as the bathroom. Outside was a big fireplace with cushions overlooking this little lake. Either Fletch knows how to find the best places to stay or Pai has some really cool resorts.


When we were all settled in we headed into town to book our train tickets from Chiang Mai back to Bangkok. While fletch was handling that I tried phoning the hotel we had stayed at in Chiang Mai to see if they had by any small miracle found my bracelet in our room. I couldn't convey the message as no one spoke any English.

Tickets booked, we decided to go find the closest of several waterfalls listed around Pai. I sat on the back of Fletch's bike with google maps pulled up on my phone in one hand, yet somehow we still missed a turn and ended up in some medieval looking miniature village. We parked the bike and went to walk around what ended up being some sort of little Chinatown. We looked around several of the shops searching for some sort of snack, and stumbled instead upon a rickety, wooden, six-person ferris wheel. A group of Chinese guys were trying to get the thing spinning with their friend on board, and so Fletch ran over to help.  It wasn't going anywhere with just one seat occupied and so I ran over to claim another seat. One of the Chinese guys insisted that I buckle up, and to my amusement I saw that there was in fact an old car seat belt fastened to the wooden seat. They managed to turn the wheel enough to let a third person on, at which point we had every other seat of the contraption occupied.


In case you hadn't noticed, things in Thailand don't come with warning labels the way they do here in the US. Everything is at your own risk. Fletch and a couple of Chinese guys spun us around in circles. Every time I went up I got a fantastic view of Pai Valley. Every time I came back down I listened to the wooden beams creak and wondered if they were about to snap. They should have snapped.

Next we climbed to the top of some sort of castle, which was actually a restaurant, and got a fantastic view of Pai Valley. It really is a gorgeous area. This little medieval Chinese village beneath us and the fluffy white clouds above us made the whole picture look unreal.


There were ponies in the distance for the kids to ride around on, and I said before we left I wanted to go say hi to one of the ponies. I approached one at random and the guy tending to it started shoeing me away with an angry face. Slightly taken aback I gave up on the pony.

We continued on our way to the waterfall, back the way we had come, and right at the fork-in-the-road instead of left. We parked at the base of a mountain and hiked a little way until we found the waterfall. The rocks were supposedly slippery enough to slide down, and several tourists were doing so, but the water was too frigid to temp us. We amused ourselves instead by watching a couple of Canadian guys slowly get up the courage to slide down the largest drop in the fall. When they finally did we cheered and made our way back into town.

We headed back to the walking street that evening, and spent several hours browsing the shops and sampling the street food. Several stands had hot brewed tea served in bamboo shoots. Once you bought the bamboo shoot, you could get refills for 10 baht. The teas were delicious.

At one point a guy handing out flyers asked if we would come look at his hand made jewelry. We agreed and he led us down a dark path between a couple of the building. At the end there was a little bar with a bonfire and reggae music playing, and beyond that his shop. He had some really nice rings with various gemstones, one of which I took a liking to. After visiting with him for a little while we thanked him for showing us his handicrafts and made our way back to the bar. After a moment of sitting we decided to keep walking the walking street, but ultimately ended up back at this bar at the end of the night. It was the epitome of the sort of hole in the wall hidden gem that every hippie backpacker searches for. We met a group of Germans and ate a sub sandwich with them. The night turned into something magical, one of those quintessential travel moments where a random group of strangers create a memory that can never be properly described or recreated.