Folks there’s a bit of an unnecessary build up to this but stick with it…
Though much loved it was time to move on from Chiang Mai. Pai came highly recommended from a number of people from backpackers to the Thai lady sat next to me on the flight from Koh Pan Nang to Bangkok.
The night before was rum-tastic and though I’ve never been car sick I was dreading the 762 turns to Pai. A small nap early on in the bus journey and some seemingly borrowed lucky duck luck I managed to dodge a hangover. The bus drivers were very familiar with the roads and expressed this knowledge by taking each turn at heart-stopping speeds.
As is the case with most of Thailand the scenery on the way up to Pai was spectacular. From behind each apex of the 762 turns brought with it a new view of a valley, forests and more. The 3.5 hour journey passed quickly and by mid-afternoon I was in the small, humble but well developed Pai.
The main town is full of quaint cafés and restaurants that each bring their individual charm. Whilst searching for my hostel the Pai Circus School and Resort I peeked at the menus and each restaurant represented same same but different at its best; they had similar but pleasantly different menus which is rare to find in a tourist hotspot where typically homogeneity plagues restaurants worse than cockroaches.
Though the hotel was about a 1.5km walk, Pai is really small and easy to navigate. The quirky “School and Resort” was located on the Eastern slope of the valley facing West giving great views of Pai and the rest of the valley. The sun was already low in the sky when I arrived creating a warm orange glow behind the groups of people juggling multiple balls and objects, swirling hoola hoops across different parts of their bodies, flipping on the trampoline and practicing contact; further along towards the bungalows other tourists were liaising by the infinity pool soaking up the orange rays or cooling off.
All of the bungalows and dorms were bamboo buildings and by any standard very basic – it was cheap and provided me with everything I needed in one of the quirkiest places I’ve stayed.
After throwing my stuff on the bed and moving a few things around, I grabbed my camera and went outside to watch the sun set. As I walked to find a nice open spot where I could remain undisturbed by anyone, I saw my Chilean (Dieago and Fernando) and Dutch (redacted) friends (see article where I arrived into Chiang Mai) chilling with a drink watching the sunset. I hadn’t seen them since we had checked into the hotel and shared a beer so it was good to see them.
Once the sun had set we headed out to the night market to get some dinner. I had yet to rent my scooter so there were 5 of us and 2 bikes. Simplest solutions are the best: 3 on one and 2 on the other. I rode with Fernando and the german girl. We jumped on and headed off with Diago and [redacted] shortly behind us. Fernando shot off down the road and raced to the town – though we were going a little bit fast considering we had three people on a bike, his control over the vehicle was reassuring.
We arrived at the night market and waited around for 5 minutes for the other guys to catch up. With no sign of them we assumed they had gone for the shower that [redacted] was keen on. We headed towards the night market which was a cocktail of culinary delight. With food from each stall costing between 20-40 baht (50 Baht to GBP) I could tickle my taste buds on the cheap.
Some avocado sushi and a fusion of Thai-Indian baked Samosas later we went for a walk through the market.
After an hour of losing each other and finding each other again we collectively headed back towards the start of the road in the hope we’d find Diago and [redacted].
It wasn’t long, 5 minutes of searching and we found them both. [Redacted] lunged straight towards Fernando in a big hug and broke down in tears. My first thought was Diago and [redacted] had a fight, but then I saw their blood stained tops and stream of blood from [redacted]’s arm.
Diago quickly explained in spanish to Fernando we need to get [redacted] to a hospital as she needs stitches. As we walked he further explained they were moving slowly but crashed on their bike at the junction. He checked them both immediately for anything that requires immediate medical attention or signs [redacted] shouldn’t be moved. He rode them back to the hotel jumped into the shower and washed all the blood away. He saw 2nd degrees burns along his arm, no cuts, no broken bones but some very hurt muscles. He cleaned his wound thoroughly. He checked [redacted], she had a deep cut to her elbow and knee. He cleaned both [redacted]’s wounds, she needed stitches in her elbow and a bandage on her knee. He then drove them slowly to find us. Diago is a doctor back in Chile and a good one at that. He had clearly reacted fast and thought logically.
We moved slowly towards the hospital, creating a protective ring around [redacted so nobody would bump into her]. We were moving too slowly. We agreed Diago and Fernando would go back to get the bikes and we’d ride to the hospital. I stayed with [redacted] holding her hands keeping her distracted. She explained she was squeamish of blood, it makes her pass out. She was talking fast and jumping around – she had adrenaline running through her body. I figured it’d be a couple of more minutes before the shock kicked in and she’d feel cold. But the most important thing for now is to keep her pre-occupied and calm. As she jumped around her breathing sped up and she hyperventilated – I kept her breathing slowly and deeply and kept her distracted from everything that had just happened.
After 10 minutes Diago and Fernando appeared on the bikes having battled through the crowded and pedestrianised night market. We jumped on and made a way quickly but safely to the hospital.
When we arrived in, we quickly filled out the forms and they nurses set about treating the wounds. The night watchman, a medical intern called his supervisor who rushed over from his home. Diago spoke to him and tried to negotiate for himself to stitch [redacted]. We really didn’t want a local doctor doing the stitiching when we had such a qualified doctor with us. As expected the hospital refused, they would still be liable for anything that went wrong so couldn’t take on the risk. The local doctor was extremely nervous and Diago watched over making sure he doesn’t mess up. His nerves got the better of him and he used 8 stitches were 5 were needed but not the worst thing in the world.
After everything was said and done we headed to a bar to unwind. Happy to be alive and fueled by a cocktail of pain killers given to her by the hospital, [redacted] proceeded to enjoy life and have fun.
Epilogue: Both [redacted] and Diago felt worse for wear the next day but powered onto Laos.
Safe journey my Chilean & Dutch friends and hopefully bump into you again!