The ride from Mae Hong Son to Pai was probably the best portion of the loop yet.
Yet again…great scenery, on a windy and well paved road.
Pai is a bit of a hippie town, which first came on the radar for westerners in the 60s and 70s. This has carried over to current times a bit…there was an unusually large amount of dreadlocks and old burnt out looking hippies (more so than Pushkar, in Rajasthan…which had a somewhat similar feel).
There isn’t really a ton of touristy stuff to do here, like you’d find in a bigger city, but it still attract TONS of people (the permanent population seems to be a small fraction of the total number of people there at any given time). It just seems more like a relaxing place to hang out and meet a bunch of people…not much different than going on a vacation to a beach/resort area. Almost everyone you talk to there came with plans to stay a couple days and ended up extending their stay for a week or more.
I went to Pai Canyon one of the day, which wasn’t incredibly canyon-like, but was interesting in it’s own right. There was a huge maze of ridges that you can hike around, sometimes only being a meter wide, which added to the excitement.
I also made a quick stop at the Pam Bok Waterfall.
The excitement here came as I was leaving the waterfall. When I walked back to the parking area, there was a guy laying on the side of the road, 3 of his friends crowding around, and two girls rushing over to help.
Luckily, one of the girls that was rushing over was a nurse, so at least someone knew what needed to be done. There wasn’t really much bleeding, and she figured he had no broken bones, but possibly ligament damage in one knee, at the worst. A truck drove by and offered to bring him and his girlfriend into town to the hospital. Once they were on the way to the hospital, we got the debris cleaned up off the road, and pushed the trashed scooter out of the way so it could get picked up later.
I talked to his friends for a bit, trying to help them relax, and offered to follow them back to the hospital to make sure they made it there, as neither of them seemed to excited to hop back on a scooter. While talking to them, it came up that the guy had not driven a motorcycle or scooter before, which wasn’t a big surprise. It seems like a lot of people come to SE Asia and rent cheap scooters, expecting everything to work out fine, yet I have heard tons of stories about people crashing (and have now seen it). Also, when you walk around town, it’s not uncommon to see people with a bandaged up leg or arm, due to road rash from dumping a bike.
If anyone reading this is thinking of renting a scooter while on vacation, please know how to ride one in advance…I can’t think of a worse way to try and figure out how to ride one. The idea of a bike is new, the traffic is probably way different than you are used to (and possibly on the opposite side of the road), and the scooter you’re on is probably a shitbox that doesn’t handle or brake well (maybe partly because of the fact its been crashed numerous times before). That’s too many variables…
OK, I’ll get off my old man soap box now.
Here’s some video from the last couple days of riding.