TL;DR: Pai is awesome and could totally be a viable digital nomad destination.
Pai; a famous town thriving with a pseudo backpacker/hippy town nestled in the mountains not too far from Chiang mai is a good 2.5hr ride on a small motorbike.
The roads are fantastic
They are winding, mountainy, smooth and fast flowing. If you wanted to push your bike hard and test your riding ability, this is probably the place. The roads aren't too busy, especially if you leave for Pai late in the day and leave from Pai early in the morning.
I took my Suzuki Shooter 115cc for the round trip again. The worrying transmission noise was still there, but I'm almost resigned to the fact that 'whatever happens happens'.
Navigating is pretty simple, and doesn't really require many turns, just long straight roads which GPS app Waze is more than comfortable working out.
The initial ride out to Pai was pretty uneventful, good fun - I managed to lean the bike over almost as far as it could go without the pegs going down. Just after this I saw a tourist by the side of the road who was looking at his bike unbeknown with what to do with it. It was a very standard, battered automatic scooter. Basically the body work was just all hanging off, it didn't look like he crashed it, but the bike was just old and worn from previous use (and crashes most likely) which resulted in the body work fastening clips snapping.
I came up with probably one of my favourite fixes (bodges) ever. I walked off the side of the road into the jungle and found some vine, stripped it with my knife to make it nice and smooth and lashed it around the body work to hold it in place.
It seemed to do the job, although I'm not sure how long for as he was going in the opposite direction to me. But, if something similar happens again I definitely think that it's a viable option!
After taking my first stop at a coffeeshop (yep some work came in that needed doing, of all times) and having a quick look at the Memorial Bridge - I made it to the centre of Pai in no time.
Living in a hut
I love living in huts.
I headed to the Twin Huts guesthouse place, which is a five minute walk from the centre, close enough but far enough to be embedded in nature.
It cost 200thb per night per hut, which included an amazing breakfast, as well as WiFi (faster than what I'm typically accustomed to in Chiang Mai), as well as a hammock. This place was great.
The only thing that kinda sucked were the showers, see below:
Off topic slightly, it is totally feasible to work and live here as a digital nomad. The internet is good, there are coffeeshops and it's pretty cheap!
It also give you the opportunity to take the oh-so-cliched pictures of your laptop in a hammock.
Some cool stuff to do
Pai Canyon is a fantastic natural phenomenon to check out. It is free to go to and only a short scooter ride from Pai (back in the direction of Chiang Mai). The best time to go is around sunset, you'll find hippies singing and playing guitar, people drinking and generally just enjoying the natural beauty of the place.
Some people even take a sleeping bag and spend the night under the stars there, it's doable for sure.
The waterfall walk
I really cannot remember the name of this walk, but it's a 6hr round trip hike, through jungle and up and down waterfalls. It's awesome.
The route itself (around half way) has a sign to go the "safe" way. If you have plenty of time, ignore that and just carry on up the river - it involves some climbing but it's a much more fun route.
This route is pretty isolated so make sure that you prepare by taking a basic survival kit; knife, water canteen, lighter or fire making equipment, basic first aid. If you get into a situation here it could be pretty dangerous.