On the Plane: Pai to Chiang Mai

This trip, the modes of travelling were as thrilling as the destinations themselves. Never flown a propel plane before. And Pai served me that on the way back to Chiang Mai. On top of that, it could be interesting to see the Pai and Chiang Mai from above.

Leaving Pai
Original posted on Instagram, Leaving Pai

See the plane arriving.

I was the last passenger of twelve plus one child who checked in at the Pai Airport. So I was put in the worst seat possible on the plane—in the middle on the back row. I beat myself up for that. But it turned out to be a favour for me. The spot allowed me to see outside the plane evenly through three windows: left, right, and the left back (the door was on the right back). Even better, there was no announcement to turn off electronic devices. Nonetheless, I switched my phone to inflight mode, just for a peace of mind.

Boarding the Aircraft
Original posted on Instagram, Boarding the Aircraft

When the plane took off and flew over Pai in low altitude, it revealed the town intimately. As it went further away, you could see the roads through green valleys until it lift above the cloud.

Pai from Above
Original posted on Instagram, Pai from Above

The ValleyOriginal posted on Instagram, The Valley

It was not too long when the plane lowered as it was approaching Chiang Mai. What was so evident was the change of landscape. To me, the most stunning view was that how house estates crept into rice fields. They sit by to each other shamelessly, like an urban irony juxtaposing.

Approaching Chiang MaiOriginal posted on Instagram, Approaching Chiang Mai

Ping RiverOriginal posted on Instagram, Ping River

Rice Fields and Housing EstatesOriginal posted on Instagram, Rice Fields and Housing Estates

This made the trip worth it. See how it landed.

On the Railway and Road to Pai

I made up my mind for the rest of the trip after visiting my father in Nong Khai and a friend in Phitsanulok. I’d like to go somewhere I’d never been to. Pai was the one. The decision was based on how to get there. I chose to catch a midnight train to get to Chiang Mai in the morning and then a mini van to Pai.

I booked the train ticket at Phitsanulok Train Station—the half way between Bangkok and Chiang Mai—by lunchtime. I was going to get the last train, which was around 1 am but the staff told me that if it was late, I had to wait. So the second last at midnight it is.

Welcoming Ladies of Phisanulok Train Station
Original posted on Instagram, Welcoming Ladies of Phitsanulok Train Station

I hung around with friends for the rest of the day. We started drinking in the evening until midnight. Fortunately, these days, you could check online if and how long the train would be late. Apparently, my train was expected to be an hour late. My friend drove me to the Station and we got some more beer for killing time. It was kind of mellow at the station. Then I realised that was the first time I had a real good drunk conversation with one of my best friend in years.

Waiting for 70-minute-late night train Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai
Original posted on Instagram, Waiting for 70-minute-late night train Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai

As the train arrived, I hopped on it. Unfortunately, I had to sit all the way to end of the line. It was not so comfortable but the luck was on my side. There was a power point on my seat. I looked around and didn’t think anyone had it. It must have been the only one in the carriage. What a luxury! Both laptop and mobile phone would be fully charged and I needed that.

Night train from Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai
Original posted on Instagram, Night train from Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai

Ohh I've got a power point on the night train!
Original posted on Instagram, Ohh I’ve got a power point on the night train!

The dawn on the train was actually spectacular, especially, for someone who had a soft spot for it like me.

Dawn on the train
Original posted on Instagram, Dawn on the train

Train friend
Original posted on Instagram, Train friend

At the Chiang Mai Train Station, I had breakfast and found my way to the bus terminal by a songthaew or Red Car. The lack of sleep and shower got to me there, where I had to wait for about two hours for a mini van service directly to Pai.

Looking in there
Original posted on Instagram, Looking in there

However, I was so excited to find out that I got the front seat. That was perfect to get the view of 700 curves on the way to Pai, not mention less chance to get motion sickness.

Shotgun, woo hoo! Mini van Chiang Mai to Pai
Original posted on Instagram, Shotgun, woo hoo! Mini van Chiang Mai to Pai

Gas station service
Original posted on Instagram, Gas station service

Music: trace 5 (fp) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Along the highway # 1095 to Pai. The video is sped up three time.

It took about more than three hours on the mini van but there was the half way break you could get some stretching. The Strawberry reminded me of an Aussie spirit of big thing.

Half-way stop with the big strawberry
Original posted on Instagram, Half-way stop with the big strawberry

When the van reached the destination, I managed to find the place I booked, have a shower, stroll the town, and be amazed by Chinese tourists. By the glance, Pai interested me already.

Lost in Pai
Original posted on Instagram, Lost in Pai

On the Road 2014: Phitsanulok

The next stop from Nong Khai was Phitsanulok to catch up with one my childhood friends, who moved there to run a small restaurant.

Other than that, what I’d like to do the most in the town was to visit Buddha Chinnarat. I was here when I was little and remembered the beauty of the Buddha image. I felt peace by just sitting in the temple. For the first time I realised how religious art could cleanse us. This could be a so-called pilgrimage for me.

However, decades go by, here I was again. It was disappointing that feeling was not there anymore. Not sure it was because of getting old or the constant announcement in the temple. Probably it was not the first reason since I was in another temple this year and had that effect in me.

The photos were original posted on Instagram.

Nana River
Nan River

Buddha Chinnarat
Buddha Chinnarat

Portrait of a Buddha
Portrait of a Buddha

Hidden Shrine
Hidden Shrine