From Mud to Beauty
After a few months of working hard, neglecting sleep and stressing too much, it was time to get out of Chiang Mai for a few days – and naturally, cover myself in mud. The motorbikes, the traffic, the cockroach that lives under my bed, these things were getting to me. And what better way to relax than a trip to the sleepy town of Mae Hong Song to pamper myself at a mud spa I had heard good things about. A countryside getaway might be just the right thing to sooth a tired body and frazzled mind. So along with a couple of Citylife colleagues I booked a flight to Mae Hong Son for a two night stay at Golden Pai & Suite Resort, and made contact with a spa called Phu Klon Hot Spring Mineral Mud. Before you could say pai auw we were airborne and looking down at the snaking mountain roads.
The flight was an epic journey on its own. Travelling in the small, sparrow like airplane – the vessel of choice by SGA Airlines – was quite an exhilarating experience. We flew, most of time, at low altitude which offered an excellent view of the ground below: lush green mountains, waterfalls and smoky villages. There wasn’t much room in the plane so our Danish journalist intern had his white-knuckled hands, firmly grasped on the seat from takeoff. But even he couldn’t take his eyes of the scenery below us – and soon forgot all about his anxiety.
The 7 kilometre ride from the airport to the resort was a somewhat bumpy affair but filled with rural beauty and natural ambience. Mae Hong Son is deservedly celebrated for its charm and scenery. Located between towering mountains covered with dense forest, it has an amicable, cool climate and crisp clear air.
As we arrived at the resort, we were confronted with almost total silence. Since we were visiting Mae Hong Son out of season, there were only a few guests (it is often most crowded in winter). The Golden Pai & Suite Resort _ a contemporary Lanna styled hotel complex consisting of several wooden bungalows, a main building and a restaurant _ is situated in the midst of eye-popping nature. Within an hour or so I had forgotten all about the hustle and bustle back in Chiang Mai. As I wandered around the palm tree filled garden, I noticed that even the toiling gardeners, wearing their traditional kub tai hats, seemed to be in state of bliss. We spend the rest of the day hanging around the pool, dipping our feet in the calming water and gazing at the stars during the cool night hours.
The next morning we headed off to the Phu Klon mud spa in a taxi. On the way we heard the story of this famous spa. A long time ago the local villagers discovered that the mud running along a creek had healing qualities. In 1995 French and Thai geological researchers heard about this magical mud and showed up to do some research in the area. It turned out that it actually did contain several healing components. Supot Klinpraneet, a local of the area, saw commercial potentials in the beautifying mire and decided to open a spa. Today it consists of several mud pools, private mineral baths, a massage area, and a saloon for facial treatments. It has a rather rural appearance in its design, but the fantastic picturesque rice fields surrounding it makes up for this.
I got the whole treatment. Full body mud mask, mineral bath, oil massage, and it felt great. The mud made my skin softer and vital-looking, at least it seemed that way, perhaps the healing was psychosomatic. Our Danish journalist and our photo editor submitted to the knowledgeable hands of the masseuses, who turned their tense muscles into lithe mounds of jelly.
The next morning we arose to the sounds of blasting speakers. Our Danish writer was puzzled when woken up at 6. a.m. by the village headman exhorting his fellow inhabitants to trim bushes, trees and lawns. He had not experienced this sort of megaphone wakeup call before…all part of the rural experience I guess. And that’s the beauty of the countryside, the fact little changes, the fact life moves slowly, at its own pace, not rushed and harried as time is in the city. Nevertheless, the city pays, so off we scuttled, back to Chiang Mai for more laps on the cash track.
– Phu Klon Office 053 282 579 or www.phklon.co.th
– Golden Pai & Suit Resort 053 061 114, 053 061 116, or www.goldenpaihotel.com
– SGA Airlines www.sga.co.th