A Day in Pai

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The morning in Pai

Pai is a beach town in the mountains. It attracts travellers looking to experience the lazy mountain beauty of Thailand and are of a Bohemian, Hippie, Health conscious and Cannabis friendly type.

Some consider Pai too touristy, too full of Westerns looking for a party.  Ignoring the fact that Thai’s also like to party ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I found Pai had far less of the obnoxious North American tourists that drunkenly loiter Khao San Road in Bangkok. Instead it is the domain of Wealthy Asian tourists and the deadlocked, bohemian European backpackers.

I loved Pai for its mix of traditional conservatism and open-mindedness, its compactness, its surrounding natural beauty and friendliness.

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Day Trippin’ in the Rocky Mountains

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Looking sharp at a wedding

I can’t believe it’s already the middle of September! It feels like only yesterday we were getting ready to head to Calgary for a family wedding.

It was a whirlwind of a week!  I did not expect family weddings to be so ….. busy.  I naively thought I was just a guest … yet it makes total sense as I’m family and who else is going to help with all of the last-minute wedding details expect family?

But, this post isn’t about the wedding which was beautiful, full of special moments and memories. Lots of people cried, which should tell you a lot about this wedding.  This is about our Calgary Rocky mountain road-trip! A fairly standard, tourist trip for Calgary and yet not because, have you seen the mountains???

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I love Pai, Thailand

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The road to Pai

Pai is situated in mountains north of Chiang Mai. I took a minivan to Pai from Chiang Mai, which takes about four hours and only cost me $8.  It is quite a hair-raising, stomach turning ride!  With 726 bends for 3 hours, it is quite an experience.  You can’t read or watch anything, so charge your phone listen to some tunes and enjoy the view.

Some choose to rent a motorbike from Chiang Mai and ride the way to Pai.  It does seem adventurous and romantic, and if you know how to ride a bike go for it!  If you do not, consider if you can last for 3 hours on 726 bends – steep ones?  I saw a few casualties along the road, minor ones thankfully, and a good 60% of foreigners in Pai are accessorized in a bandage or two.

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Last Day in Chiang Mai

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Kao Soi Soup

You know I really did like Chiang Mai and I know that if I was staying in a different hostel I would have enjoyed my time more.  But, at the time I just wanted to go to Pai, where I hoped things would be better.

And even though I was starting to feel ill on my last day I still went out, as I really didn’t want to be at the hostel with my ever-present and obnoxious hostel mates.  They were quite terrible actually, they made fun of the new German guests who seemed like perfectly decent guys.  I couldn’t wait to get away!

After visiting all of the temples I just walked along the wall and  through the center, exploring parts of Chiang Mai I hadn’t seen yet.  I also ate the famous Kao Soi soup, the Curry Noodle soup that Chiang Mai is known for.  It was amazing, spicy, full of flavour and the crunchy noodles added a delicious texture!

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Saturday Night Market & Makha Bucha Day

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Memorial for King Bhumibol

I was temple hopping in Chiang Mai the last time I wrote about my epic Thailand adventure, but the best thing about my stay in Chiang Mai was it was Makha Bucha Day.

Makha Bucha Day is the second most important buddhist holiday in Thailand.  It is the day on which Buddhist honour Buddha and his teachings.  One of the ways that Buddhists celebrate is to attend a candle light procession around their temple.

Makha Bucha Day fell on a Saturday, which is the day on which Chiang Mai has its weekly night markets.  One of the largest takes place right outside my hostel on Wualai Road.  Which also happened to be the route you took to get to a good number of the Temples and I found myself on a journey through the Night market, with stops at temples, where I would stop to participate in the Makha Bucha celebration. Quite an experience!

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Usaquen Sunday Market, Bogotá

UBmarket-11My last day in Bogotá was a Sunday and as my flight didn’t leave until midnight, I had a full day to do whatever I wanted.  I choose to go to the Usaquen Sunday Market, a weekly fair and flea market, in the Usaquen neighbourhood.  A part of Bogotá I hadn’t yet been to and I wanted to buy some gifts.

The market is full of your standard tourist vendors which sell things that you can buy anywhere.  Usaquen Sunday Market also  featured many local artisans. I was tempted to buy some of the canned salsa and spices but, wasn’t sure if I could take them back so sadly did not.  Instead I bought some jewelry. I didn’t bother to haggle as the prices were very reasonable and I want to support these artists who spend their time creating things they love.

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Villa De Leiva, Colombia

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Plaza Mayor

Villa De Leiva is about 2 hours north-east of Bogotá.  It’s a lovely colonial town that gave me a peek into a different side of Colombia.

The town is known for its Plaza Mayor, which at 14,000 square meters is the largest square in Colombia and believed to be the largest entirely cobbled square in South America.

It is actually quite easy to get from Bogotá to Villa De Leiva using public transportation and its cheap! We left our Hostels at 6 am and where in Villa De Leiva by 11 am.  The journey took is 5 hours and cost 27,000 COP’s each which is $12!!!

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Museums of Bogotá

IMG_1339.jpgI was pleasantly surprised by the museums in Bogotá.   To ensure all Bogotáns have the opportunity for cultural enrichment, all of the musuems offer one admission free day.  Something I support! Free access to a museum or art gallery can really be an uplifting moment in your life.  When I was unemployed I would regularly go to the AGO on Wednesday night and it made a huge difference. It took my mind off my worries and took me to a place of wonder.

I did not go to all of the museums in Bogotá.  So this is not a comprehensive list all of the must-see museums and I’m sure I missed on some that others would say require a visit.   I visited about 6 museums in totally.  The most on my first day in Bogotá, which was a Monday and I had plenty of time after the Graffiti Tour!  But, this is the list of the I’d recommend.

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The Sunset of Monserrate

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View from the cable car

Monserrate is a MUST do when you are in Bogotá.  The views, the views, the views!  Did I mention the views?

We asked our Anti-Cliche tour guide Orland what time we should go to get the best views.  He recommended at night.  So we decided to go in the late afternoon, have a late lunch there and watch the sunset.  Which turned out to be the perfect amount of time to experience all of the views of Bogotá that Monserrate had to offer.

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Tours of Bogotá

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Bogotá Graffiti Tour Selfie

I use to think that organized, tour guided tours were boring, with mono-voiced tour guides taking you through every statue of a famous general in a city and filled with American seniors.  The pumpkin-spice late’s of travel.

There are tours like this but, there are also fun, not boring ones and when your travelling solo, a walking tour can be the best way to do a super touristy thing on your own and meet people.  Bogotá had a number of great free or affordable tours – everything from food tours to craft beer tours.   I did three tours in Bogotá – the Bogotá Graffiti Tour, Hero’s Anti-Cliché Walking Tour and the Bogotá Craft Beer Tour.

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