Hitched a ride on a motorbike to the hot spring outside town. The touristy one is expensive to visit and well, touristy. Drove about 20 km from Pai in the rain, which was light and refreshing. The hills were incredible; not the spectacular countryside, but the roads. We were on a pretty old hired bike, which wasn't fast at the best of times, but going up some of the hills, we had to push with our feet to keep going.
The gradient of the road was such that as you reached the top of a hill, you got the feeling that you were going to drop off a precipice. Never seen such steep roads. Of course the descent was quite impressive too; like going down a moderate blue piste at a ski resort.
Got to the the river, just off the road in the middle of a forest. There were bamboo seats and a smallish river. It was hot. Not boiling, but as hot as a comfortable bath and very clear. Sitting down, the water came up to your chin. It was extremely relaxing, so much so that we spent about three hours just sitting about, watching lots of beautiful red insects, which looked like small helicopters hovering above the water. We had been told that the mud in the river was good for the skin, so we improvised mud-packs. After washing it off, felt cleaner than after a dozen showers.
Glorious mud: Cecilia and Peter.
I was with Peter who is Polish, Robert, Dutch and Cecilia, French and we were the only ones there. After a while a guy arrived with his young daughter, so Robert gave her his Dutch tulip to play with, which she loved. People came and went and finally, after sitting out a downpour, we headed back into town for a late and delicious lunch.
I know, I've already put another version on Facebook, but I like it.
By the time we left, everybody was in a rather shrivelled state. As I was sitting on the bank, I felt something on my leg. It was a largish spider. I've managed to get over my childhood arachnophobia to a certain extent, but this was a bit close to my limits. As a reflex, there was a strangulated cry accompanied by a sweeping motion to rid myself of the monster.
The red insects were interesting. I'll try to find out what they are. The wildlife since I've been in Asia is a little disappointing. I was expecting giant monitor lizards which were everywhere the only other time I've been to this part of the World, but haven't seen any, although someone told me that he'd seen one in the centre of Bangkok; Asia's equivalent of the fox perhaps.
Dogs are everywhere. They have their own community in the town centre and seem to enjoy themselves, especially the professionals, who can do doggy eyes and thus get a snack from the tourists. I was walking through town last night, wearing walking boots, when a blur shot out from under a street trader's awning. It was a small, white puppy, who immediately went for my laces and seemed to be enjoying himself. I suddenly became the centre of attention as the dog heaved and growled and tugged, with his back legs straining for more traction, while tourists gathered and took pictures on their phones. Maybe I'll go viral.
The fireflies at night are great: pure white lights which drift in front of you. When I was walking without my torch the other night, they were eerie, but pleasing company on the way home.