Sometimes ESL Teachers Need A Vacation
Being and ESL teacher can be a bit taxing on the psyche at times. Earning your TEFL certification can be, too. That’s why this post is about taking a break and getting away for some relaxation and recreation.
For all you ESL teachers in northern Thailand, or even enrollees in a program at UniTEFL International, Pai is a perfect weekend destination. You can easily take your motorbike or any number of minibuses and arrive there in just a few hours.
High atop a mountain in Mae hong Son province there exists a sleepy mountain village called Pai. The town looks like a cross between rural Thailand and a hippie commune. I bet you donuts to dollars that you will see at least three people sporting dreadlocks and playing instruments – both Thai and farang.
Getting to Pai is half the fun. Taking a motorbike is absolutely reasonable and even encouraged. I’ve personally completed the journey five times and it’s always enjoyable. There are plenty of places to stop for coffee, noodles, and beautiful picture taking opportunities.
With 762 turns along the road, the ride is anything but boring. You don’t need to be an expert driver, but a bit of experience is encouraged. That said, it’s not scary or hair-raising like some people claim. You can take it as easy as you want and people who are in a hurry will simply cruise past you. I mean it’s Thailand, of course they will.
There are so many different venues to enjoy while you’re there that I don’t know where to begin. I will offer a few ideas that are slightly off the beaten path.
Tacompai: This is a permaculture farm where you can stay in a number of rustic accommodations. Included are a tree house, small bungalows, a larger clay house, and tent spaces. You will be staying on a working farm with animals with a low-impact environmental focus.
There is usually freshly cut bananas for everyone to enjoy for free and kombucha that’s homemade and costs 25 baht for a big bottle. Many people cook large meals for everyone to enjoy and share around the communal fire space.
Tham Lod Cave: I will write a follow up post on this one to describe this beautiful, interesting and somewhat creepy destination. You can take a guided raft/walking tour through this cave system that was recently excavated. This place was home to our hominid ancestors 8,000 years ago and you can walk through their burial cave. It’s about 40 minutes from Pai by motorbike and worth every minute.
Waterfall Tour: Ok, so this isn’t exactly “off the beaten path.” I just couldn’t talk about Pai without mentioning the beautiful waterfalls within twenty-minutes from the center of town.
Mor Paeng is one of the more beautiful (and more popular as a result) waterfalls. You can trek around for free and then grab a cold drink or a bite to eat in the parking area.
Tip: for a great map of the area with waterfalls and other destinations outlined, go into the AYA bus station and ask for a map. They’re free and really helpful!
Now go pack a weekend bag, get on your motorbike and let your mind relax. Pai will certainly not disappoint, unless what you want is a place that’s ugly, boring, and devoid of potential adventures!