Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I'm off to Air Panas for my morning's ablutions

Each night outside my door a wild animal symphony performance takes place. Crickets and cicadas drum and hum. Frogs bleat like lambs. The hollow bark of a distant dog repeats its line for six beats, pauses for eight, then begins again. Roosters and night birds add their mournful crows and cries.

As the first shades of light creep into the sky, the cacophony abates, as if all the crying animals, comforted by the bright familiarity of daylight, realised they are saved from eternal darkness for another round. Now the sun warms their feathers and fur; people start to move about as they normally do.

I dress for my morning walk and follow a dirt road into the rice paddies. It's already busy with one or two motorbikes going towards town, barefoot farmers with leather skin, heading out to the paddies and school children in cute uniforms on their way to school.

As I pass, each person speaks to me a soft morning greeting. 'Paahggeeeee'.

At first I reply with good morning but then I get the courage to imitate the musical rise and fall of their word. 'Paaaahgggeeee' I answer and the smile I get in response is worth the effort.

Yesterday I met cute little Putri and her grandmother. I had bought her an icecream and we had communicated with smiles and gestures. And there she is again, seemingly waiting for me. 'Di mana Air Panas, Putri?', I ask her. She simply takes my hand and leads me along. When I smile, she smiles, when I whistle, she whistles, and so we pass the time until we arrive at the hot-springs.

They are a real treat! These hot springs have existed for hundreds of years and were developed into three pools during the Japanese occupation when Japanese officers stationed nearby used them for their recreation. The water is said to heal skin diseases.