Pai – The (not so) Hidden Treasure of Northern Thailand

I could be in SoHo, Berkley, or hell – even Paris itself.  I’m not.  I’m in the northern part of Thailand in a small town called Pai, and it’s fantastic.

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Catching up on Hoi An

I’ve tried to keep daily/regular updates to this so that I don’t forget or leave out any of the details of this trip.  The last few days haven’t accommodated that goal. As such, I’m trying to catch up on the various events of the last few days – starting with Hoi An.

As I mentioned previously, Hoi An is very much a tourist trap, but that’s okay.  The city’s French history is obvious, and it’s influence is everywhere.  You can also see – everywhere you look – how much the city is influenced by the fact that it’s become a tourist/backpacker destination.  You can see this in some of the newer pictures put up – signs entirely in English, cafe’s advertising the fact that they have wifi, and menus in all English.  The other specific thing that is noticeable is that nearly everyone speaks a decent amount of English.

For me, I used the time in Hoi An to walk around the market that was right outside my hotel.  The market is essentially THE MARKET, and you can buy anything from Season Two of The Walking Dead for $4, fresh fish, lunch, a NorthFace jacket, to an iced coffee or a pair of shoes.  Adding to the fun, all of this is done via negotiating. I ended up having two suits made – something that the city is very specifically known for.  That said I’m not sure if it’s known for it’s tailors and then the tourists showed up, or if the tourists showed up and all of the tailors started multiplying.  After everything was said and done, I spent roughly $250 on two suits, two shirts, and 3-4 months of shipping them back to the USA on a really slow boat.  Was it that much of a savings?  Probably not.

On my last day in Hoi An, I took a motorbike and went out to the beach.  These beaches were much nicer than the ones I had previously seen.  There are a few pictures of those included in the new set of pictures I’ve uploaded.

Oh, and after a lot of contemplation, looking at prices, being jealous of other people I saw on the roads, and who knows what other feelings – I decided to rent a motorcycle for 15 days.  (More on that in a separate post.)

(The gallery below is the same as what’s been added to the photos page/will be when I can get better internet)

Da Nang to Hoi An

The following is a chronological account of my trip from Da Nang to Hoi An, as it was recorded it in my notes.

7:08 AM: Found bus stop.  How long will I have to wait?  There is another bus stop for the same bus on the other side of the road.  Shit.  Which is the right one?

7:34 AM: On Bus.  Assuming it goes to Hoi An.  Said Hoi An.  People said Hoi An.  Haven’t been asked to pay yet.  If I’m not there in an hour I’ll get off and find a taxi I suppose.  Currently going west – Hoi An is south and east.  Still in city though.

7:44 AM: Guy on bus grabs me.  Points for me to get off.  Points at other bus that’s yellow across the street.  Going in opposite direction.  Now east.  Going up same street I just came down.  Confused.  None of the busses stop; just slow down enough for you to grab the bar and swing in or out.

7:53 AM: Back at the exact same intersection I got on the first bus.  Going east now.  Appears the road goes east and connects with a southbound one.

8:05 AM: Finally crossing bridge.  Smells like garlic.  Still criss crossing east and south.

8:10 AM: Watched someone pay.  Clearly you pay when you leave.  Not exactly a great place if the guy tries to rip you off and over charge.  Know that anything over 50k is supposedly a ripoff job.  These guys did wait for me to cross the street though as I ran across traffic from bus 1 to bus 2.

8:20 AM: Still going south.  Girl next to me on bus gave me a piece of candy.  Mellon Milk.  Tastes like…Mellon I guess.  Warning on package is in English and says “warning allergies.  Contains Milk.”  Soft and chewy.  First thing I’ve ate in probably 17 hours.

8:27 AM: No wifi signals around to get GPS location.  Assuming we sta on this road we go right into Hoi An.  Current road is newly paved but bumpy; enough room for a bus going one way and a car.  Not the motorbikes that also litter the road.  As a result I’m hearing he bus horn a lot.

8:40 AM: A lot.  No room for two busses to pass with the various bikes and mottos on the right side of roads.

9 AM: On back of motorbike.  Bus stops 80% of the way there and you are on your own for the rest.  50k for bus.  Pointed to spot on map where my hotel was and motorbike driver said ‘5 us dollar’.

9:05 AM: Bike driver says that my bag is an extra $2.  We’re already on the bike for 5 minutes so I’m not sure if I can say no.  He has two kids; one is one years old…says the other is 14 but he also said he was 25.  Something is lost in translation.

9:08 AM: At hotel.  Paid 180k for bike.  Checked in early.  Room 209.