From Bugtong Bato Falls, we all took a different foot trail, this time making a 20-min. hike to Bugtong Bato Falls Inn where we were to have our lunch, on an outdoor bamboo picnic table, of fried fish, pork adobo and steamed rice plus delicious, homemade coconut and mango flavored ice cream for dessert.
After this filling repast, an unusual treat awaited us – an exotic and soothing hot bath in a kawa, a huge wok (fryer) that was transformed into a jungle hot tub (PhP200), an idea similar to Japanese ofuro hot baths which use rectangular wooden tubs.
We were supposed to have this at Kayak Inn, an upland riverside resort operated by Tribal Adventure Tours, an adventure outfit, but there was no supply of spring water needed to fill the kawa. Luckily for us, Bugtong Bato Falls Inn also offered these unusual hot baths – with spring water available.
The five big, recycled kawas, cauldrons used for cooking muscovado (raw brown sugar) and taken from abandoned sugar mills, are filled with natural flowing spring water fed from a pipe. Then, a real fire, fuelled by chopped wood, rice hulls, charcoal and dried palms, is placed underneath the kawa to heat the water. Guyabano and guava leaves, said to cure skin disorders and add aroma, are then added as “ingredients” to the now heated water, together with ginger slices and flower petals.
Once the water temperature was right, I took the first shot at experiencing the feeling of being “cooked alive,” the wooden ladle adding a nice touch. While having my hot dip, I felt my muscles, tired and tense after a morning of strenuous hiking, being relieved as the heat permeated my skin. As the kawa can fit two, Jandy joined me after a few minutes. During the session, an attendant controls the fire so that it does not become too hot. The thickness of the kawa prevents the fire from scalding our skin.
All the while, I enjoyed the sights and sound of the nearby forest. It is recommended to just stay there for 20 to 30 mins., otherwise you’ll end up like a prune. Truly, a “must do” while in Tibiao.
For those, who want to stay overnight, you can stay at Peter’s Lodge, just beside the baths. The 2-storey nipa and bamboo lodge, which could be rented overnight for PhP1,500, has a fan-cooled bedroom on the second floor, a 6-pax ground floor dining area, and a bathroom.
Peter’s Lodge: Brgy. Tuno, Tibiao, Antique. Mobile numbers (0920) 499-6903 and (0939) 492-8554.
How To Get There: Tibiao is located 73 kms. from San Jose de Buenavista, 12.6 kms. from Barbaza, 17 kms. from Culasi and 89 kms. from Brgy. Caticlan (Malay, Aklan).