“A weekend trip to PAI! On Scooters? Yeah let’s do this!”
This sounded awesome!! We had a whole weekend … Friday until Sunday, which sounded really short when we started to talk about it. Could we skip school on Monday as teachers? Hahahaha sometimes being in school never ends (or not being in school). We postponed that topic and decided to figure that out later. It did not seem to be that far of a distance on the map.
We realised later on that we had forgotten about the mountains up North. Yeah those mountains … but more on that later.
DAY 1 CHIANG MAI- MAE HONG SON
First we needed scooters! Or dirt bikes as I suggested!
“Come on, Alex!!! That’s fun!! We can ride though D I R T and jump and have fun!! Please let’s get a dirt bike!!!”
Alex wasn’t convinced. Alex had probably saved my life, haha. Alex was also riding the scooter like a small girl, I told him. And though I can totally picture him complain about this sentence here, I can also picture him quite clearly on the scooter in front of me:
SLOW- too slow!!
I kind of exaggerated, I was way too fast, I overtook him, I was recording on the scooter and I loved the serpentines. And those roads seemed to love me back as they supported my reckless driving… well at least for a bit …
“Look at this road we have to get on!! There might be a hidden waterfall!!”
The road in front of us went uphill with our scooters and was covered in a tiny layer of mud. What could possibly go wrong? We drove in there and tried to avoid the mud puddles until there was no turning back. We rode them straight through. And it worked. We got stuck two or three times, but somehow always managed to pull out the scooter. The road got worse and we were stuck in front of a hilly path that was covered in wet mud.
“Let’s do this!”
That was a hard one. Go slow or go fast with the scooters? What was the better option to get up that hill without sliding on the mud? We went through the mud in a steady pace and used our feet to stabilize. And damn yes!! We made it. I have to admit that my heart had stopped at least two times, but since I was pumped with adrenaline now I was more than happy to ride along … until I got stuck in the middle of mud. How the %#*^€… am I supposed to get that scooter out of there. Ah damn! I knew a dirt bike would have been better! Shiiit!!! We would have to spend the night in the dark ….
Before the thoughts went crazy in my head, a friendly local came out of nowhere and got our scooters out. How nice! He just appeared out of nowhere, smiled, helped us and disappeared. Ha! We could actually go on, but decided that we had pushed our luck far enough and had lost a huge amount of time already, so it might be wiser to turn around and find the one waterfall that was actually on the map.
And this waterfall was amazing! Before we could see it, we felt it: small tiny droplets of water were on our skin- the air was so humid my hair curled up. We walked towards the waterfall and looked up. We could see some tiny stairs made out of stones near the cliff…. maybe we …
Up on the waterfall we held hands so no one would stumble and fall down. We slowly approached the cliff and looked down the waterfall. Beautiful!! We sat on some stones and mesmerized the water that was disappearing in front of us. What a day. But we had to go on! We wanted to reach Mae Hong Song in the evening and did not know yet that we had eleven hours more ahead of us.
Eleven hours. Eleven hours on a scooter riding over my recently beloved serpentines, that now seemed like the road to hell. The altitude of the mountains made the weather change whilst driving. Hot on the foot of the mountains, cold and rainy on top. And there were a lot of mountains, so our drive was basically going up (Damn that rain!!!!) and going down (Damn it’s hooooot!!!). Warm, cold, warm, cold … RAIN! And me wearing shorts and a shirt. I was about to die, or fall asleep on the scooter and then die, or freeze to death and then die… when would it stop?
9 hours to go.
There were no tourists and no locals either, just two scooters, two bad trip planners and an amazing view above the clouds.
At some point we found a tiny village. I went to a house and bought some Red Bull to keep me awake and we thought about finding a place to stay. The woman inside talked to us in Thai and burped whilst talking. This made me laugh so much, but she just stared at me bewildered. Maybe… just maybe, this is totally normal. Maybe, just maybe I can do the same without insulting her. I ordered a Red Bull “Sawade *BUUUUURP* kaaaa”.
Nothing. No reaction. No reaction at all. Hahahaha. I burped three more times, just to make sure my theorie was right and then went outside, amused. With the Red Bull in my hands I watched the street dogs. I always do that while traveling. When dogs are friendly and approach you, the people around will most likely be friendly, too. But if the dogs bark and show their teeth they have been treated badly. This was the case here, so I really wanted to leave that place asap.
Still 9 hours to go.
Even with Alex’ jacket it was unbelievably cold up in the mountains and the roads did not seem to end. We couldn’t even stop anywhere because there was nothing on the way! Just jungle, mountains and a road that had small ghosts on the sides, which showed the people who had been killed here already.
After driving for 7 hours (seven hours…!) more on the scooters, another tiny village appeared. There was a sleeping dog in a telephone booth and we decided to find a place to spend the night at. With the help of a small booklet (Point it“This book is SO useful I still have it everywhere I go. Thanks Meike ;)”) we found a hostel. We were so hungry, we walked around the streets and asked the people, where to find food, when a garage door opened…
A small woman was waving at us. In front of us was the home of a Thai family, that sat on the carpet and watched Tv. Their daughter had been cooking dinner. We walked inside, sat down at the table and felt kind of amused. We sat in the middle of a strangers’ living room and looked like sunburned hobos who hadn’t eaten for hours and hours.
The food was amazing!!! Every food would have been amazing after 9 hours straight on a scooter, but this one was perfect. Pad Si Ju, Thai TV and a beer. I was happy.
We paid our food and told the family in sign language that we loved it, that our bellies were full and that we were forever grateful. We then quickly left to catch some sleep so we could head off to Mae Hong Son early the next morning. The family smiled, nodded, closed the garage door and continued to watch Thai tv commercials inside. And we slept ….
DAY 2 MAE HONG SON
Gosh that alarm!!! I hate my alarm!!
Back on the scooter. 2 hours to go! “Mae Hong Son”- Would we ever arrive?! At least there were no more mountains between us! We were ready to go.
Long Neck Village was awaiting us. A village where refugees from Burma lived. They wear necklaces made out of metal rings, you might have seen it somewhere.
The roads that led there reminded me of those at the beginning of our trip, but since we’d had that before, we didn’t much worry about it. One road was covered with water, but not just water- it actually was a whole river!! Let’s do this!!
60 cm of water, a reckless driver and a scooter that can do anything!
No wonder we were the only tourists in Long Neck Village. Maybe that’s why this whole place didn’t seem to be a human Zoo for us. Just picture more tourists up there … how must it be to live somewhere with people walking past you, taking pictures of your life. Kind of weird.
I got some rings around my neck, too. Damn, they were heavy! But mine were the fake ones that were tied together with a string behind my neck.
We talked to more people of the village, listened to a guitar player and then went on to find a hotel, we could spend the night at.
DAY 3 MAE HONG SON – PAI – CHIANG MAI
On the next day we went on to Pai with our scooters, a small town in the north of Thailand, that is surrounded my mountains. This town is Hippy paradise! Wooden signs painted in various colours, Bars, hammocks, colourful cocktail menus and heaps of laid-back people. Old women sit on he streets, smoke joints and grin at you with the biggest smiles I had ever seen. If you want to relax, meet some travellers and just hang out for a while without partying too hard, Pai is the place to be.
Unfortunately we only had a few hours there, because there were some mountains to pass with the scooters before going back to Chiang Mai. I would have loved to stay longer, but will definitely come back in the future. If you plan to visit Laos after Thailand, you can easily stop in Pai first.
On our way back, I was still complaining about Alex being way too slow, when Karma stroke back. I crashed my scooter on gravel, whilst … wait for it … riding along the street with about 5km/h. Seriously! I could not have been slower, hahaha! The Scooter was scratched really badly. I tried to hide it a bit when bringing it back to the rental service, but when he asked me if I had any accidents, the blood, that was running down my foot kind of gave me away. The scooter was insured and I was sure that my foot would heal on its own. My foot decided not to heal, but doubled its size overnight.
I woke up the next day and could barely stand up. It hurt like hell! I made it to school by bike, but figured that I had to go to hospital after. Damn how I hate hospitals. The ones in Thailand were funny though. Not if you’re seriously injured, but just to see the way the doctors worked over there was kind of amusing. The door to the emergency room was open the whole time. The door that led you out on the dusty road was open, too. If you hadn’t had an infection by then, this was your chance. I got a wheelchair and was rolled inside. The hospital bed, where they examined my foot had bed sheets with bears on. On the pillow was hair. Hmmm … yup.
“ME NO LIIIIIIKE!”
I helped them bandage my foot and asked them to X-Ray it please. They answered with “Jajajajajajaja!”, but never did it. I ended up with crutches and had to come back to hospital every other day to check the wound. Back home in Germany some months later, I was told that my ankle had been partly broken, but healed back together in a weird way. Well. I’m alive and I do have a weird Thai bone now. But since I only had to pay around 7€ I was quite happy that my foot was still attached to my leg.
Would I ride a scooter in Thailand again! Damn yes, but probably not a dirt bike.