We left Pai around 9:30 am Tuesday morning to start our next long drive to Mae Hong Song. We climbed the first of many windy hills and made our way into a cloud that fortunately never unleashed on us. We got to the top of the small mountain and put on more layers, but within five minutes of driving all layered up, we came out of the clouds and descended into a warm and gorgeous little oasis valley. This was a sign of what the rest of our drive would be like and we stopped on the side of the road often to try to capture the scenery on camera. We were so happy for the nights of rain in Pai that completely eliminated the smokey skies and we had nothing but blue skies and pillowy clouds all day.
We planned on going to the Tam Yod cave in Soppong, but they charged 500 baht for the two of us (the equivalent to two extra days in a bungalow) so we passed and continued to enjoy the drive. It is supposed to be a really awesome cave with a rive going through it, so if you ever had the chance to see it and are not traveling on a Thai salary, I would probably do it. We did stop at a much smaller cave on the side of the road (for 20 baht each), which used to house coffins from the ancient Burmese. The tombs that were discovered were over 3,000 years old!
We hadn't heard great things about Mae Hong Song and expected a larger town (since it is the capital city of the Mae Hong Song province) without much going for it in a less beautiful setting than Pai. We were happy to discover that it was a relatively small city (much smaller than Suphanburi), with the perfect amount of tourism and it was in a beautiful setting! The cheap guesthouses are situated around a small manmade lake and we found a great little place for 300 baht (which was originally priced 500 baht). Supposedly it is a great base for doing treks, which I can believe with how beautiful the surrounding area is and it looked way less commercialized and ridiculous than the trekking companies in Chiang Mai.
Because of the long drive and all the stops for taking pictures, we didn't get to Mae Hong Song until 4 or 5, but had enough time to stroll around the little lake, get some Vietnamese noodle soup for a late lunch, and relaxed and read a bit before dark. We went out a little later for dinner and enjoyed the small market on the lake where vendors sold Burmese style clothing, art, and other little things. I bought a very beautifully woven scarf from a really cute and friendly woman that is part of the Karen Hill Tribe (famous for their long neck women) and regret not buying more from her.