Pai: Thailand’s hippy enclave

We arrived by train to the bustling  northern city of Chiang Mai and quickly decided we wanted to go somewhere smaller.  Thailand has felt a little bit more like a western-style vacation and we’ve been getting bored with the tourist dominated cities and attractions.  We are now in the north-west corner of the country in the town of Pai.  Though the core of Pai is just as touristy, the people we have met here are more interesting and down to earth.  The surrounding countryside is full of rolling hills cut with rivers and terraced rice patties.  In order to fully explore these hills we rented a 125cc scooter and hit the road.  We took a road trip 44km to the Tham Lot caves near the town of Soppong.  There was a one-hour tour including three of the caves with a lantern guide and a ferry-man-to-Purgatory style raft trip through the main cavern.  The caves were beautiful and eerie with the chirping of bats and strange calcium columns disappearing into the darkness above.  Although impossible to capture on camera, the raft trip was incredible.