Tibiao’s Kawa Hot Bath
Following our short island getaway, we headed to Tibiao, a nearby town famous for its river. On our way, we met a giant boulder of rock blocking the road after falling from the mountain. A back hoe and a payloader maneuvered their ways to eliminate the hindrance, and I couldn’t stop watching. (Okay, I kinda wanted to get out of there as there might be more boulders waiting to dislodge.) Anyway, the road was cleared and we made our way to Kayak Inn.
Kayak Inn is home to a number of huts and behind it is the mighty Tibiao River. Having no time for kayaking down the river or for trekking to Bugtong Bato Falls, we indulged in another famous Antique attraction: the kawa hot bath. Repurposing the old giant pans used in making sugar, these cast iron pans were filled with water, scattered with leaves, and heated. Once the water got hot, the fire is put off and it’s time for a hot bath.
While the bath was being prepared, my friend Jeaneth and I wandered down the river. The water was cool and so refreshing. We perched ourselves on a rock and let our feet dangle as the rapids continued to wash away the heat from our bodies. Too bad there wasn’t enough time for this, but it was as very relaxing experience.
As we climbed back to the inn, one bath was almost ready. There were only four individual pans, one for a couple and another for a group. At first dip, the water was wickedly hot, but as time wore on, it became soothingly delicious. Of all the individual baths, the one near the terraces and the river was the best. A canopy of trees hovered above your head, and just beyond the rustle of the river cascades were rice terraces. It was a perfect place to relax and to free one’s mind. Coincidentally, it was also the perfect way to end our trip.
One thing I was told by a friend was that the bath has medicinal properties, so don’t take a shower afterwards. (We didn’t because we were short on time and we still had a flight to catch.) I could only wish that we could stay just a little bit longer.
If I ever get the chance to go back, I would love to spend a night in one of Kayak Inn’s huts, kayak down the river the next morning, and have the dead skin cells of my feet be eaten by fish through their fish spa. Someday, I guess.
In a lot of ways, Antique surprised me with some beautiful views: cliffs standing on top of the sea, black sand beaches and lush tropical paddies. Most importantly, the people were kind and never took advantage of us — something I rarely encounter in tourist destinations. In fact, our visit in Culasi was even concluded with a handing out of Certificates of Appreciation. (Shouldn’t we be the ones grateful for the visit?) In any case, next time you think of Panay, don’t forget Antique. It’s a wonderful place to visit. 🙂