Today we found out that we will be leaving in two days for a small island cluster in the far south of Thailand in the Satun province. For an unspecified amount of time (perhaps a few days or a week) CNF will be tasked with building a sea turtle hatchery and protecting the eggs of these critically endangered creatures. We have never done anything like this before. The other interns and I have been searching the internet for how-to guides on building a hatchery as we are trying to prepare for this new journey. I am so excited I can barely contain it. Anyway, while the Chairman Miguel prepares for our trip, we closed down the Elephant tours and Hippo took us on a tour of Pai.
Let me just start by saying that Hippo is the best tour guide ever. We got to go to so many places that were on my list and all in one day! I never felt rushed and we ate SO MUCH great food. The morning started with a trip to the Wednesday market. This is a big affair that happens every week in Pai. It winds around the streets and through a park. Everything you can imagine is sold at the Wednesday market: food, clothing, backpacks, flashlights, batteries, fish-both to eat and to have as pets, oh and we found a rabbit for sale for only 150 baht! Thats around four dollars, folks. It was so much fun to wind through the shops with Hippo as she talked with all the shop owners and negotiated on our behalves. I walked away with a cute traditional wrap that I can’t wait to wear.
After the market it was so hot we were all sweating like dogs so we stopped for fruit smoothies. Now this place was simply wonderful because they didn’t use any added sugar. It was essentially your fruit of choice plus ice and it was divine in the overbearing heat. After our quick smoothie break we hopped on our bikes again and this time drove out to the Chinese village. Yes, for some reason there is a large Chinese population right outside of Pai and it has been this way for years. They established their own Chinatown, complete with the mandatory giant Chinese arch welcoming you to the town. In the Chinese village we found really great shopping. Jade jewelry and porcelain tea sets greeted us at reasonable prices and every shop offered us some delicious tea while we browsed. It was really fun to walk around and see the well-kept village.
After our tour of the Chinese village we were back on the road to a well-known waterfall. The road was steep and bumpy but the view was absolutely spectacular. Upon reaching the waterfall, we figured out we had to do a bit of rock climbing to get to the top. I left my bag with Hippo, took my shoes off, slung my camera over my shoulder and started up. It is a wonderful feeling to climb with only your hands and feet, although it was certainly a bit treacherous. At the top it was a gorgeous view as the water cascaded into smaller pools where people of all ages were swimming and relaxing.
Soon enough we were on the road again to our final destination, the Land Split. A few years ago, an earthquake caused the land on a farm to split apart in a dramatic fashion. The owner was savvy and soon enough it became one of Pai’s favorite tourist destinations. I fell in lovewith the land split. The owners are as kind as can be, offering you an array of products that they produce from the land the moment you walk up. Everything is donation only but I was tempted to empty my wallet for these fellows. After we hiked up and down the impressive land split, they invited us to drink some juice made from hibiscus flowers. I have never tasted such incredible juice in my life. Still full from lunch, I disregarded and gulped down two glasses full. I also tried some of their homemade wine and hibiscus jelly. It was all absolutely amazing.
Full and happy, we got back on our bikes and drove to another waterfall before heading home sensing an impending storm. It was an incredible day and tomorrow we begin another adventure as we all head for Chiang Mai before our flight to the islands.