By the time we have descended the 510 stairs, we are tired and hungry. Our list of things to do in Chiang Dao includes, as a possibility, finding some hot springs. But first, back toward town for lunch.
We have scarcely left the temple grounds when we see big puddles of water in the road. There has been heavy rain here while we were on the mountain, but not a drop on our trail. Another aspect of the clouds-playing-with-mountaintops game, I guess.
We stop at the first eatery we see. Esso gets noodle soup with pork. Their “chicken” looks like bits of offal, but they have “fresh local beef,” so I try that. It’s delicious. Served with fresh vegetables, even better than the first lunch.
The cook is very friendly. We ask about hot springs. We don’t want to do a lot more driving; are there any nearby? It turns out, yes, she points to an obscure turnoff right across the road. Only 5 minutes away!
I mentioned before that sky-scapes are a recurring source of awe today. This five-minute drive is particularly rich.
Other than clouds and mountains, nothing to see but a few buffalo.
Come to think of it, I don’t see any cows anywhere. Maybe that “local beef” is from buffalo?
At the end of the road, nothing but a pullout where a few cars are parked, and a vendor with an ice-cream cart. At one end, an official-looking gate marks the entrance to the Wildlife Sanctuary; at the other, a hand-lettered shingle marks a private entrance to the “Hot Spring”–but no one is there. There are several cars, and people, in the parking area. Can you ask the local people where we go, I ask Esso? She tells me, these are not locals, they are all Chinese. But I think they are as clueless as we are.
Esso asks the ice-cream vendor. She says anyone can go into the springs here; sometimes people reserve the private area. We climb down from the parking lot to a little beach. Here there are a few local people. There are no structures, certainly nothing as civilized as a changing room. This is really a community spring, as close to pure nature as you can get. Esso doesn’t like the sulfur smell, but the water temperature is perfect. Great way to unwind, and complete a perfect day.