Common grounds hostel
Pai is this little town in north Thailand, like Byron bay its a bubble seperate from the rest of the world, even getting here you have to earn it with a mini bus that travels at full speed over 725 sharp bends, its infamous for travel sickness as I found out when my seat I was allocated had a sticky floor and dry vomit on the window…
I made it in one piece though.
Arriving in I had found some work for accomodation at a hostel called Common grounds Pai, roles involved hosting day trips for guest, working behind the bar and taking everyone out on bar crawls, so basically be the hype man and make sure no one was sat on their own.
The crew consisted of:
Sacha the 7ft dutch man that had spent almost 3 months here on his second time working at the hostel.
Liz a tattoo covered canadian that spent her time always waking up with new drunken injuries.
Jenna a cool canadian from kitchener Aka “the dog whisperer” as the hostel dogs would follow here everywhere even hopping on the scooters.
Al an english/ welsh legend who was always full of energy.
And Jeff, it was Jeffs first day as well he had been at the hostel three nights already and each time blacked out drunk, one time falling asleep in a bar while resting against a speaker playing trance at full volume, this was deemed worthy and it sounded like Sacha offered him a job on the spot.
3 weeks of drinking begins
One awesome thing about the hostel is it’s right in the centre of town and turning left brings you onto walking street which has some of the best street food you would ever come across.
After hardly drinking in Sri lanka I hit the ground running and set up a bar tab stright away. Every night at 9 we do a shot and push everyone out the hostel and towards the bars.
At first we were hitting up a place called Boom bar, that was the first and cheapest place to drink.
Sometimes we would go to a place called yellow sun, we got on so well with the owner that we pretty much never paid for a drink amd these guys poured them strong.
The other bar is Don’t cry bar, on the first night Liz told me the rules “don’t cross the bridge” it’s the late night bar and everyone wakes up the next day with their head in thier hands saying “oh god I crossed the bridge”, the rule was ‘if’ you did cross the bridge you get the fried chicken and you leave and you may just survive the morning.
The Crack Shack
Beautifully known as the crack shack this was the staff accom for the volunteers, a basic wooden dorm and no matter how much you cleaned it it was always dirty.
A personal favourite moment for me was waking up to a tinkling sound in the corner of the room, when I looked up I found a very drunk Jeff relieving himself against the wall, I tried multiple times to coax him outside only for him to turn around mid flow and say “I’m sorry Jon it’s too late” to then continue before finally a very soaked Jeff climbed himelf into my bed instead of his own…. brilliant.
So apart from constantly eating and feeling hungover and sorry for myself I did drag myself out on the day trips. There’s a lot to see around Pai from chilling in the natural hot pools and giving yourself a free mud mask to sunsets at giant canyons.
A must do for Pai is the caves, it’s two and a half hours away through the mountain pass by scooter with a stop at a view point that has a 4 person swing (genuinely fearing for my life and this would never be allowed in the UK). Once at the caves definitely buy the fish food on the way in, the caves are huge and you get a guide with a lantern, at one time you are put on a little bamboo canoe and taken down the river in the dark if you drop the fish food in here (or throw towards the other boats) masses of fish come up out of the deep or under the other canoe.
The london lads
Halfway through the experience there was a change in people a barely alive Liz headed back to Canada, David arrived who was the opposite to Liz he was very much alive even though through his life he had be shot, had a lung taken out, knee split open and many other near death experiences but he was a legend that had already been in Pai 3 weeks.
Also this was around the time where the London lads turned up, Pete and Jack. We have the WiFi password as onemorenight this is because it’s said so often and these boys were a perfect example of this, they came for 3 days and stayed 3 weeks. These legends were out every night and with me teaching the Canandians how to drink, well mainly Jeff as every time Pete would see him with a full drink or in the biggest taboo two drinks at once it would start a “weeeeeeeee like to drink with Jeff cause jefff…. by the end though we were starting to feel responsible for Jeffs black out drunkness.
The reason I went to Pai and literally landed in Bangkok and flew straight up was because five years ago when I was first in the country I did the south and not the north and then for the next five years when anyone mentioned Thailand they always spoke so highly of Pai.
What a three weeks though each week in Pai feels like a month and yet leaving it felt like I had arrived three days before, There’s obviously a lot I can’t mention on here as I’m trying to keep it PG but you can take my word definitely don’t miss this place if you’re going through Thailand.
Shout out to Common Grounds for having me and everyone I met.
Next time we Follow Jon Along as he heads out of Pai and goes 21 hours through Ethiopia to finally go home for a month for the first time properly in 5 years.