Mar 19, 2011

Pai-radise Not Found

Well, we hit a low-point in our travels yesterday, brought upon by sheer ‘wrong place at the wrong time’.  It was probably inevitable to happen at some point.  In any case, we have come out on the other side, intact and a bit wiser, so not a total loss.

Ever since we arrived in Thailand 2.5wks ago, we’ve had nothing but hot, humid, sweat-dripping-off-your-forehead-all-the-time kind of weather.  At the end of our first week in Chiang Mai, it finally started to cool down a little and the forecast for the following week was for rain and even cooler temps in the high teens (celcius).  We set off anyway as planned for Pai, located in a picturesque valley in the mountains north of Chiang Mai. Pai’s got a reputation as a real laid-back town, originally favoured by the ‘hippy Thais’ looking to play music by the river, now popular with the backpacker and even the urban Thai crowd. Set at an elevation of approximately 500m above sea level, we knew that it would be a bit cooler and were actually looking forward to a bit of respite from the heat.  When we arrived, it was raining lightly and very damp, gray, and noticeably cooler but not uncomfortably so.  We donned our light jackets, unfazed.  It continued to rain through the night.  By the next morning, it was still raining and getting much cooler.  Problem was, we didn’t really have much in the way of warm clothing, except for a light jacket, pants, and wool socks each.  In terms of wet weather clothing, Jim and I each had rain ponchos and the girls each had water resistant light jackets.  After a stroll through town in the rain, we discovered to our dismay that these did not hold up to the constant rain as the girls were soaked through.  Luckily they still had their umbrellas which we purchased in Bali.

'Dry' Pai

By the 3r day, Jim and I were cold and miserable.  The rain had not stopped since we arrived and the temperature had now dropped to a low of about 14 degrees.   There’s not much to do in Pai when it’s like this and you are poorly equipped for the weather, as the main charm about it is its natural setting, so we just hung out in our one-room bungalow. (Incidentally, I once came across a saying that claimed ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just a bad choice in clothing’—so true!) While the girls were quite undeterred and seemed to enjoy the time spent ‘at home’ just playing, Jim and I were chilled to the bone and we had cabin fever.  It got the best of us and sadly, beat us.  We quarrelled about minor issues.  Although it had finally stopped raining the next day, I’d had enough of Pai and decided to make the arduous 3hr stomach-churning return ride by mini-van to Chiang Mai with Yasmine while Jim and Maddy stayed on for another day to explore the countryside by scooter as originally planned.  (In fact, central and northern Thailand was hit with an unseasonal cold and wet weather front that lasted 4 days-- Thais were shivering even in Bangkok.)

Our Bungalow

View From Our Bungalow

Travelling long-term, as in life, is not always going to be about happy days.  We knew this from previous experience. When you are together 24/7, sometimes everyone just needs a bit of space.   We’re human too!  While being physically apart for 24hrs is not ideal, we did get a good ‘reminder’ about our goals, priorities, strengths and weaknesses as individuals, partners, parents, and as a family.  Once reunited in Chiang Mai, we were able to talk about this, put it behind us and move forward more appreciative of each other and the time ahead.  
The Girls' Catching Up


  1. Great Post! Nice to hear that it rains on world travelers as well as everyone else. People forget that when they hear about families like yours traveling the world. It is work and is often challenging. However, I feel it offers far greater rewards and possibilities than staying at home, so I choose travel.

    Looking forward to more great stuff from you guys!

  2. Thanks so much for your comment and your interest! It's so interesting how many families are 'doing it' or just about to! What will they call us???!! Coin the new term!

  3. . Good morning.I like the way of your blog writing.Very interesting and informative article. Thanks for sharing.I like to read more article like this.Petter Joe

  4. I am re-reading all your blogs as we are now 'on the road' and like to pick up some tips of all the places you've been. Do you remember any of the places you stayed in while you were in SEA? We are trying to stick to $50 a day budget, but now we've left India we are finding it quite hard to stick to. Mainly down to the accommodation side of things. As we are travelling with a 2yr old, it's a bit tricky sometimes to just wander around some place new looking for a place to stay when she's tired and grumpy!! If you can remember any of the places you stayed, it would be a great help, thanks.

    1. Hi Claire
      I can definitely empathise with you! TIP: when looking for accommodation, leave one parent with the child somewhere, like a restaurant, while the other goes hunting!

      As for places that we've stayed--could you email me some specific destinations that you were after? also, generally, if we really liked a place, we either stuck the name of it in the caption of a pic on the post itself or at the end 'It's a Wrap" post for the country.

      Thanks for your comment!