Only two months of the trip left! It is hard to believe that we have been on the road for nearly a year, with these last 4 months especially flying by. April may have been the fastest month yet, part of me feels like we just got back to Thailand and now we're already about to leave. We have opted to stick around in Pai until May 2 and then spend two more days in Chiang Mai before we fly back to Bali. Pai has treated us so well, mainly due to our incredible villa at Ban Nam Hoo Bungalows. If you are an animal lover and traveling to Pai this place is a must-stay - they've got 3 dogs and 16 cats!
It is interesting to return to a place like Pai 5 years later. In 2012 there were only 4 or 5 guest houses and almost the entire town was just on one street. Everyone seemed to know everyone - the place had this small town, hippie vibe that I've never experienced before or since. Pai has of course blown up since then and now sees hundreds of new tourists each day, with 50+ guest houses all newly built to accommodate them. While it has lost some of those qualities that made it so special to me the first time, it has also made tons of improvements. We've had some of the best meals here in all of Thailand, most of which have been organic, locally sourced food. I normally don't care much about that sort of thing, but it has increased my meal enjoyment tenfold. Having more restaurant, cafe, and bar options in general has made life in Pai pretty sweet indeed, and I am willing to put up with more crowds and commercialization to keep it that way.
Now even though we are flying back to Bali at the start of May, that is not our final destination. I don't think I ever want to go back actually, just not my scene I suppose. Instead, we are crashing at an airport hotel and immediately flying over to Lombok, where we will take a bus and a ferry over to the Gili islands, our home for the next three weeks. We plan on spending most of our time on Gili T (Trawangan), since it will have the most for me to do while Jenny scuba dives. If we get tired of it we may also check out Gili Air for a more relaxing experience. We are a little concerned that Ramadan may impact many of the businesses on the islands, but from what we have read it won't be quite like Chinese New Year where nearly everything is shut down. Looking forward to getting a taste of Indonesia that is not Bali, hopefully I will have a lot more positive things I can say about it.