Three very windy and bumpy hours through the mountains landed us in beautiful Pai just north of Chiang Mai. We walked across a rickety bamboo bridge to a small tent that was to be our home for the weekend. Our tent sat right along the Pai river — butterflies, snails, lizards, and a view of the lush, misty mountains included.
The pace slowed way down in Pai. Our hosts didn’t seem to be aware of our reservation, but it turns out they just hadn’t checked their books that day. Bars were draped with hammocks and string lights, and the streets were filled with sun-kissed expats on scooters and old men in haram pants who just “never got around to leaving.”
After easing in with a coffee and a book by the river, we did what one does in Pai and rented a scooter to check out the nearby sites. With just our luck, the rains came pretty quickly after hitting the road, so we followed the signs for a hot springs resort. After stopping for an elephant crossing in the middle of the road (seriously), we came upon a deserted resort and hoped for the best. For $2, we were granted access to our very own valley of fruit trees, hot mineral baths, and a beautiful infinity pool overlooking rice paddies and rolling green mountains. Soaking in the baths while the rain drizzled overhead, we forgot about our soggy clothes completely.
In true rainy season form, the sun was back within the hour, so we continued on our journey to a beautiful canyon and for some road-side pad thai. For sunset, we visited a temple atop a nearby mountain. The hundreds of stairs made for a stunning view of the town below, right in the shadow of an enormous sitting white Buddha that can be seen peering from the trees from just about everywhere in Pai. Thanks to off-season, we enjoyed the whole place to ourselves.