The Mae Yen Waterfall
If you ever find yourself in Pai, hike up to the Mae Yen waterfall. Trust me. It's around a five hour round trip. For most part you'll follow - and often cross -, the Mae Yen river. The river runs through the lush jungle and will eventually lead you to a beautiful, be it perhaps slightly unimpressive, waterfall.
The life in Pai is very laid back, and places not reachable by scooter might for most travelers in Pai as well not exist at all. I remember inviting some people in the hostel to the hike with me, but from the several people who had planned to join, only one person wasn't too hungover to actually join in. So, the two of us set out on the little trail. When we made it to the waterfall, there was no-one else around, and actually neither had we seen anyone on the trail, making it the perfect opportunity for my first skinny dipping experience underneath a waterfall. Hell, yes!
But I'm not here to talk much about the waterfall, the skinny dipping, or the trail leading towards it. I am here to tell you about how we decided to go back. As that's where the adventure is at!
I kind of had to climb it, right?!
I unfortunately, no longer have access to the higher quality version of this majestic slow-mo video, haha!
The crazy way back
For the last hour of the trail leading up to the waterfall, you no longer follow the river, but rather go up and around a hill, to make it to the waterfall. Having looked at google maps beforehand though, I knew the waterfall connected to the same river we had been following for the biggest part. It should theoretically be possible to follow the river, go off-trail for a bit, to eventually rejoin the trail, right?
Booming with a sense of adventure, we set out! It started of rather easy and calm, but it quickly became obvious why the trail didn't follow the river all the way to the waterfall. Around twenty-five minutes in the hike back, following the river, it became so wild, to the point where it felt more as if we were canyoning - without the necessary gear - instead of following a slow moving stream! After discussing the changed perspective, we decided to push on. The nature around us was too stunning, and we had already hiked quite far. Turning back now would put us at risk of being in the jungle when night would fall - and you don't want that.
One hour in, it started to rain, and we still hadn't seen anything that resembled the trail we had taken on the way to the waterfall. With the rain falling down in thick droplets, the river started to become stronger and stronger. We were literally crawling over the rocks and held on as well as we could.
At one point, I decided to move my glasses and put them more securely on my shirt - or so I thought -, not even five minutes later they were swallowed by the river. Never to be found again. While it was definitely a bummer, it wasn't a deal breaker for me. Nothing much I could do about it after the fact anyways!
Eventually we found the trail again, and while the experience was incredible, we were also relieved to have made it back to some sort of safety. Soaking wet and stained with dirt, we finished the trail back.
Below you can find some of the footage from the way back, including how I lost my glasses. Unfortunately I didn't have a proper camera back then, and my filming experience was very limited (it still is, but it's gotten slightly better, haha). Enjoy either way!