So far our trip to Vietnam had been pretty much non-stop travel. We were up every morning early and out all day seeing the sights – which is exactly how we liked it. But the continuous travels combined with jet lag soon began to have an effect. We therefore decided to have a day off from our hectic schedule to relax. But of course, this was still an opportunity to do something new, so we decided to visit Thap Ba Hot Spring Center!
As it turned out, this was one of the best choices we made of the trip! We started off our ‘treatment’ by visiting the mud baths. Now a little part of my brain was being very British and was wondering how many people would have shared the same mud as me. Would I be sitting in mud that had just been congealing there for the last month? Would I be essentially relaxing in things other that mud?!?! But never fear! I watched in delight as, once the group before us left, the mud was drained away, the ‘bath’ washed down with clean water and refilled with new mud! So the tiny little anxious part of my brain was quickly put to rest.
Second surprise of the day was the actual consistency of the mud. Because really, ‘mud’ is the wrong word to use for what we were sitting in. Mud suggests something thick, clumpy. What we were sitting in was more like muddy water. Which I suppose makes sense when you consider that the point is to sit in the sun and let the mud dry and harden. If it was thick and gloopy it wouldn’t cover your body evenly and I suppose would take too long to dry. It was a very funny experience, especially considering the fact that we were supplied with little kiddie buckets which we used to pour the muddy water over each other. The only slight downside to the day was that there was light rain throughout our visit, which meant that we couldn’t dry off in the sun like you’re supposed to. But believe me, at the time we were so happy that we were cool that we couldn’t have cared less!
Part 2 of the spa trip was to rinse all of the mud off in nice strong showers. Now if you’ve never experienced a mud bath before, I want to let you into a little secret. It doesn’t matter how long you stand in that shower, it doesn’t matter how hard you scrub, you will NEVER get all the mud off you the first time. It simply isn’t possible. Be prepared to see mud in the shower for the next couple of days, even when you thought you were entirely clean! The second part of washing all the mud off was to walk through a small passage like structure that shot out jet streams at you from all angles. Sounds nice right? Nice and relaxing, perhaps it felt like a massage? No. Those jets were strong. And I mean STRONG. Strong enough that we were all shrieking and trying to get through as quickly as possible! Not something I would try for a second time, although admittedly very funny to watch others do.
Part 3 of the spa trip was far more relaxing. This part of the day saw us lounging in baths of hot water. As someone who loves a good bath every now and then, this was absolute heaven. It was such a nice feeling to simply lie there and unwind, although slightly strange to be enjoying the heat when normally our days were spent determinedly searching for places with air-conditioning!
Once we had finally had enough of the hot tub we had free range to go and enjoy a couple of different pools. There was also a cute little waterfall area where a lot of groups had pictures taken. It was amazing to finally have a swim, and actually so much more enjoyable since it was slightly cloudy and rainy that day. As someone who burns very easily, it was great to have fun playing in the pool knowing that I didn’t have to worry about sun cream or if my skin was going pink at all!
Spa trips may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but this is a trip I would still recommend. It’s just something a little bit different, and an experience all in itself. In reality we went there more for the amusement factor than anything else, and spent most of the time messing around and amusing ourselves. It’s amazing how quickly you revert back to being 2 year olds when handed a bucket and a bath full of muddy water to play with!
“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend. Robert Louis Stevenson