Day 2, 28 Feb. Pa Pae to Pai, fuelled by coffee

The morning after ... mist over the lake at Mushroom GH

It’s quite a shame that Mushroom GH is in such dire conditions. The place is rugged yet serene but unfortunately, not a popular stop. It’s no wonder that the going rate for the chalets was only 250B. If I was passing this way again, I’d definitely stay the night, if only to gaze out from the balcony at the mist-covered lake in the mornings.

As we readied to hit the road, the sun was just creeping up over the hills but it was still quite chilly. We could feel the cold very acutely especially when we hit a small descent a little after we started pedalling. We were cold and hungry but before long, we could feel the sun thawing us out.

At the 32km milestone marker, we arrived at our breakfast destination, called 32 Coffee Hill, for obvious reasons.

32 Coffee Hill's dining area is built below the road so if you didn't know about this place, you could easily pass it and miss out on a great meal in some very nice surroundings. It reminded me of some very exotic resorts ... minus the exotic prices, of course.

Only a top-notch barista could have brewed this work of caffeine art -- it was easily the most beautiful of all the coffees we had throughout the trip.

It was a very long breakfast. Nobody wanted to move out. Only after the 2nd (or was it the third) cup of coffee, did we very reluctantly hauled ass and hit the road.

One floor below the al fresco dining area, the exotic theme extended to the exotic rest room. The johns on the right had doors recycled from aged teak where one can ...

... discharge in blissful splendour

Filled to the gills with food and caffeine (while some of us made a deliberate effort to empty extra baggage in the exotic loo), we headed out onto the 1095. The sun was up and we were already very nicely warmed up for the rest of the ride ahead.

The switchbacks hit us relentlessly one after another and of course, the noobs’ cameras were clicking away with abandon to record those been-there-done-that moments. Some of these switchbacks were quite dramatic, with substantial elevation increases as much as 20ft … maybe more.

It was going to be a loooong, and very hot day …

After about 40kms or so of climbing, we came upon a viewing point. The 2 tourers-turned-racers, Roland and Shang, were luxuriating in the shade of the thatched roof hut, sipping cold drinks and waiting for the rest to regroup. We were at the highest elevation of the day — 1400m, from the 886m of Pa Pae.

The sun was at its zenith. Sitting in the cool shade, it was a welcome respite from the relentless heat at this viewing point, not that there was anything to see, given the haze. Well, at least it was mostly downhill from here — all 30 or so kms —  to Pai.

Gravity rules... Mo squeezing every last bit of aerodynamic advantage coasting down the hill towards Pai.

Without Jesus, it's all downhill 🙂 ........ Strangely, there was nothing resembling a church to be found here.

At the end of the downhill run, about 8km from Pai, we played the dutiful tourist at this spot. If you look carefully, you'll notice that this bridge was erected during WW2, precisely 1,942 years before Christ was born. Wait a minute, that's still a long way to go ....

Still in good shape after all these years.

I was literally wilting in the hot sun, so I tried to escape the blistering heat by diving into a cone of homemade coconut milk ice cream that was being sold nearby.

While I was enjoying my little treat, the boys had gone on ahead to Pai but … they never made it pass a coffee joint just a few kms down the road. Caffeine is a drug, after all, and when it comes in the form of a tall, sweet, milky, filled-to-the-brim-with-crushed-ice coffee, the steeliest resolve turns to putty.

Soon, we rolled into the hippie-ish town of Pai, stomach rumbling as loudly as hot tyres on heated tarmac. We stopped at a decent looking shop and, after 8 hrs or so on the road, finally tucked into a full meal.

Our digs for the 2 days in Pai, the newly opened 10-room, so-called boutique GH that goes by the name of Paifah. It was very nice, and we paid 500B for a single occupancy room each.

It was nice little touches like these cute 'elephant' towels that made our stay so memorable. There was no air-conditioning either, as once the sun sets, the temperature dips down to very agreeable levels.

Teak leaves are very popular in northern Thailand as roofing material, not just for country folks but for arty-farty GHs as well, as in the case of our very earthy and well-ventilated bathrooms.

Tomorrow, we explore Pai …

Total distance today: 70km
Total distance to date: 135km

Play back today’s ride at everytrail.com

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3 thoughts on “Day 2, 28 Feb. Pa Pae to Pai, fuelled by coffee

  1. Mike, I so enjoy your trip and remember that wonderful coffee place along the hway w the super duper avante garde toilets. You really have the gift of the pen or should I say keyboard! I feel I’m travelling right with you on your trip.

    Truly, really must take my hat off to you for conquering all those hills. While driving, we were exclaiming how on earth bicycles can conquer some of those climbs, but you did!

    And I cant agree more with your caption abt downhills and Jesus! 🙂

    Cant wait to read your next installment la.

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