Today we were off for a bit of well earned (?) rest and relaxation courtesy of the Thap Ba hot springs and spa and its deal package that we got when we booked through our hotel. So once again were up reasonably early expecting to be collected by mini-van from the hotel, which duly arrived and in we jumped. The van took us, funnily enough to the same area of town as the Cham Towers we had visited yesterday but just a bit further away. The spa, when we rolled up to it, was quite a posh looking affair but had loads of people all either arriving and being pointed to the changing rooms or in swimwear being pointed off to one of the treatment areas. Most of these people were either locals or Asian looking tourists, we seemed to be the lone backpackers at the place but undeterred we disembarked and entered and were efficiently shown to the changing rooms. Possibly the backpacker changing rooms as there were no Asians in mine and it was quite small, possibly the broom cupboard methinks!
Once we had changed into our swimwear we then were shown to the mud treatment area and had to wait a short while for our very own personnel bath to be filled with ‘mud’, glorious mud! The place appeared to have its own supply of mud on tap – amazing eh! The bath we were to sit in was easily big enough for two and once filled to the required depth we were allowed to lower ourselves in to the hot watery mud. The bath was both warming and messy with a hint of grittiness to it as well but it was quite nice just to sit back and let the minerals in the mud work their magic on our aches and pains.
After the mud experience we hit the open air showers but these were lovely and warm too, before being guided to the next area. This happened to be a private pool for two where we could go naked, so when in Rome! The water here was also full of mineral goodness and it also removed the last traces of mud from those difficult to reach places. Here we were also given fresh fruit and a drink as well. It all seemed a very luxurious way to go backpacking and to be honest we were loving it. The fruit and drink were very welcome as by now the heat from the treatments was getting to be a bit much for me but I felt sure I would survive somehow!
The last of the treatments in our package was the massage. Originally this was only supposed to be of the head and feet and so it began, we relaxed back and two Vietnamese ladies started to work their magic. During the massage we got chatting to them and they told us about some of the more poor treatment of the poor that takes place in Vietnam, if they are to be believed. It turned out this was the precursor to them wanting us to pay them cash for them to give us an entire body massage each and as the rate was very cheap we agreed. So I am not so sure that whether their pleading poverty and abuse at the hands of their government was all part of the guilt trip to lead to us taking on the full body massage but either way it was worth the massage. They told us that in Vietnam cash really talks, especially for health care if you have the money you will get good health care but if you do not you will be poorly treated or not treated at all. The ladies were really very interesting but I am still not so entirely sure of their motives.
Feeling fully tended too and our aches coming mainly from the manipulation our muscles and joints had undergone we were now allowed to do whatever we wanted at the place, so off we went to the large swimming pool surrounded by lovely gardens. This too was also a hot water pool. In actuality we ended up doing a bit more relaxing round the pool than actually in it, it was far too hot for me to stay in it for any length of time. By the pool we even treated ourselves to a quick bite to eat as well. So, after being pampered and boiled and literally beaten to a pulp in the name of ‘spa treatment’ it had all take its toll somewhat and my relaxing by the pool took on a more zzz-like form after a short while but when I awoke I felt … well pampered, boiled and beaten really.
This was the end to the day of pampering and all we had to hope for now was that someone would take us back to our hotel which in true Vietnamese fashion, happened albeit somewhat chaotically. A big problem being that the street was not quite wide enough for our transport and the big coach that headed towards us so that was a bit of a standoff for a while.
Come the night time we went out for a bite which was quite cool but then whilst having a drink at one of the bars across from our hotel we were accosted by a book seller. She came past by once on a rekky and then later when our guard had been lowered due to some serious alcohol intake. I actually tried to sell her one of the few books I had in my backpack which went badly. However, I did end up buying a book from her which I probably should not have done but there you are beware when your guard is down and someone comes at you with a book folks!