We were woken up by the family next door at 8am because breakfast was ready. It was basically the same as what we had for dinner. The man of the house was already into the corn liqour! Ainipa had heard about some hot springs nearby and it sounded like something cool to check out. Ainipa got the directions but tried to take a bit of a shortcut. We got a bit lost but eventually found our way. The family told us there were 30 minutes away but it took us almost 2 hours to reach them. The hotsprings turned out to be a huge bust unfortunately. They were very small and shallow. The were right next to a cold water stream and only spread about 5m in distance. They were however, extremely hot! I tried to find a balance with the hot water and the cold water with my feet but couldn’t do it. They were either cold or burning. With a lot of work and moving some stuff around the site has some potential but its not much in its natural state. Oh well, we took the road back to our hut and had lunch there.
We walked back to the tropical rainforest area and explored a little while. We went back to our hut and packed up our stuff. We had a 2 hour uphill hike to the next village where we would sleep. We took some steep shortcuts on a trail and avoided the longer switchbacks of the road and it still took us 1.5 hours to reach the village. The village was spread out over a slope. It wasn’t that large and to my surprise, there were hardly any people around. There were a lot of domestic animals around and shit everywhere though!
Ainipa took us to a house where he knew an old couple lived. It was a fairly large house for the two of them and there would be plenty of room for us. They cook inside the windowless home and it was super smoky when we arrived. It was too much for me and I asked if I could sleep on the large covered porch. This was no problem and I set up my stuff here. Just 2 years ago, electricity and hot water came to this village. Only two homes have hot water and Ainipa and I went to one of them and took a nice hot shower.
Ainipa cooked most of our dinner which was rice, eggs and some veggies. There was one small dry dish of hot peppers, soy bean and some wild bird all crushed together. It was tasty but extremely spicy and more used as a condiment that just eating it plain. After I set up my bed and was just lying down to test it, the old man came out and throw off my blanket over my legs. He then pushed up my pantleg and began to apply some local plant remedy/massage oil. I was quite surprised and asked Ainipa in the home what he was doing. Did he want something for this or just being nice? In the end he never asked for anything. He put the liquid on my legs and roughly massaged them for a minute and then put some other oil on my feet. It was a bit rough but did feel okay, though I’m not sure if it helped or not.
The sky was clear again and totally full of stars! It was amazing! I put on my winter coat and lied down on the porch to stargaze for a while. As I said, nights have been around 10 -12C and my sleeping bag is only rated to about 18 – 20C. I’ve been sleeping with my socks and longjohns (thermal underwear) on and using my winter coat as an extra blanket on my upper body. I put a t shirt over my head and face and I have been warm. Tonight though, the couple had some blankets we could use. Just one blanket over my sleeping bag kept me warm and I was able to sleep in just my boxer shorts, the way I prefer to sleep.
The couple was in their seventies and very tiny and weathered. They had lived in the village all their life. The woman’s earlobes had been stretched and hung low. They were part of the Bulang, an ethnic minority of 90,000 in China with others in Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. The woman chewed betel nut and her mouth and teeth were a gross black color. She kind of scared me actually. She didn’t hang around much while we ate but when she came around she would take in this whisper voice, kind of like a demon or something in a horror movie. She freaked me out! The man was super friendly though and of course shared his corn alcohol with me. I had one shot before dinner. He offered me another after dinner, I tried to refuse but since he knew I drank, I pretty had to drink it. Ainipa doesn’t smoke or drink so he gets no pressure from the villagers. Needless to say I slept warm on the outside and the inside this night!