Friday, 24 November 2017

Happy connections


The past has proved that I'm not really addicted to write ups about published and bound materials otherwise known as books. 
Maybe self-inflicted. 
Or maybe there aren't too many distinctive books concerning hot springs enjoyment out there. Certainly not on Southeast Asia.

So if I mention that this review concerns a book entitled Blue Mind which delves into the psychology of water through popular science, one could question why take the trouble in reviewing it here?

I don't know how I came to decide to purchase this book, but the catchy subtitle
"The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do"
did vex my interest.

Now I believe that I need not be more happier nor healthier; the limits to both are fully understood by myself. 
Would I want more of either, I would need to trade in current circumstances with the possibility that I could get it wrong; playing it safe seems to work for me at this moment in time.

But it's more the fact that I'm seeking justification as to why I'm satisfied with my levels of happiness or health that I'm currently experiencing. 
In respect to being able to recreate with water: living near the sea, in winter I daily cycle along the shore even if only heading to work, while in summer I daily take a dive/swim.
I also purchased a hot tub not too long ago and currently spend every evening enjoying the sounds of the distant waves interspersed with the various calls of the nearby birdlife. 
I feel fit. Physically and psychologically.

Treatment
In Blue Mind, Wallace Nichols takes us on a journey passing various aspects of how water influences our mind and positively charges that same mind to counteract what he mentions as the red mind: that part of a brain which gets stressed out by various levels of modern day with it's 24/7 connected to screens and instant connectivity.

Certainly the introduction to neuroscience, neurology of happiness and bringing us up to date on how our minds (are supposed to) work is interesting enough. With science there to provide the backdrop, there's no doubting how water is positively influencing individual and collective minds.
"... the highest increase in happiness in an outdoor environment occured when people were near water".
Though Blue Mind hopes to attract more people to experience natural water, in the paragraph on immersion therapy, the author shows that simply experiencing water under a shower already results in increasing Blue Mind attributes. 
It's a pity that the same paragraph is the only paragraph which touches on soaking as such, though only regards to hot tubs not the natural soaks we crave.
"And as a sign of therapeutic potency, in Japan, where bathing is a social as well as a personal ritual, several contemporary studies have shown that hot-water immersion can increase activity in the parasympathetic nervous system while decreasing it in the sympathetic nervous system (an indication of relaxation)-..."
Blue feelings
The narrative is quite Americana-esque. Though proving through science that experiencing water and happiness are correlated, the author chooses to go beyond the conclusion and (in my understanding) seeks establishing a religion (WallaceJNichols.org) of worshipping water connectedness, complete with it's get-togethers and the passing on of blue marbles to prospective (happy) disciples.

In a time where public concern about our collective future is overriding (think climate change), Mr. Nichols fails to use the findings and his established movement to encourage protection of our natural waters. 
For instance, just view a recent episode of the popular BBC documentary Blue Planet II and you'll realise how action trumps words and why the lack of using his platform to encourage conservation is a major miss
Let's hope more Blue Mindfullness is to come ...

Off
Is there a message we can take from this book? 

Besides the individual pursuit of  happiness, there's precious little advice on how to protect and share the dwindling opportunities to interact with water. Especially in Southeast Asia where public access is easily sold-off for private gain, there should be more shouldering calls for expansion of nature parks and protecting pristine areas and keeping the few remaining natural (thermal) areas as pristine as possible.

But it is a very positive book which does encourage us to get out there and enjoy.

On internet you'll be able to find more reviews of Blue Mind. Take this from the Guardian (16 Jul. 2014):
'To be filed under "popular psychology", Blue Mind is a study in water and why it makes us happy. It's also, almost accidentally, a sort of autobiography.  
... 
Almost against my will, I liked this book for its mad spirit'.
A recent interview with Wallace (USAToday, 13 Nov. 2017):
'Blue mind is not achieved while you are on Instagram ... ever. It’s impossible. One of the requirements is logging out, turning off and putting the screens away'.
Notes:
Nichols, W.J. (2014) Blue Mind. Back Bay Books, New York, U.S.A.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Muck

 
jennifertwang on Flores:
 @meeshull masterfully bargained a taxi ride to moni, a little town of waterfalls and rice paddies and clusters of wooden houses ... also this small & strange "hot springs" where we dipped our feet, slapped at mosquitos, and politely stared at the locals who stared back, soaking and taking selfies. #wonderfulindonesia
It's pretty often that we are delighted with the good news concerning geothermal power generation. Take this from Think GeoEnergy (Sep. 12):
'With ongoing geothermal development and 345 MW of geothermal power generation capacity to come online next year, Indonesia is soon to overtake the Philippines as the second largest geothermal electricity producer in the world'.
Don't get me wrong, generating power from the earth's inner heat is a good and sustainable way to harness nature without decimating the earth's resources in the pursuit of economic gains. 
But geothermal power development doesn't necessarily equate sustainable development. 
Too often local concerns / local development is ignored. Mongabay reports (Aug. 22) on protest on Java:
'This January, the people of Karangtengah Village in Central Java were surprised to find that the river running past their homes had turned murky. Not only do the villagers rely on the Prukut River for freshwater, it also tumbles down in the scenic Cipendok Waterfall, the centerpiece of a local tourism industry.
Before long, the villagers identified the source of the muck polluting the waterway: mud and debris from a once-forested plot of land that had been cleared to make way for a planned geothermal power plant in Baturraden, a tourist resort on the southern slopes of Mount Slamet.
...
The Baturadden power plant, the development responsible for muddying the Prukut River, demonstrates that while these projects can bring tremendous benefits, they are not entirely without social and environmental costs.
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PT Sejahtera Alam Energy apologized for the incident, and said they would install filters to clear up the water, after the Banyumas public works department told the firm about the pollution.
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Despite these promises, the river turned brown again in July, prompting even stronger protests.
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In 2012, PT Sejahtera Alam Energy obtained an IPPKH — a permit which is required for firms wanting to carry out economic activity in forestry areas — from the then-Forestry Ministry for 44 hectares of land. But in October 2016, area covered by the permit was expanded to 488.28 hectares, according to a report from local news site Braling.com — although the Banyumas district office, which admits that 90 percent of the total concession area is indeed protection forest, insists the power plant and its related infrastructure will only span 137.5 hectares'.
It seems that despite all the positives locals are still being sold short.

chepybennington at Talaga Bodas, Garut (Java):
Its time to relax 😌.
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Emang udah paling enak kalo cuaca lagi dingin,berendam di air hangat,apalagi kalo viewnya Telaga Bodas,waah ajib bener dah.
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Nah buat kalian yg punya masalah penyakit kulit seperti jerawat dll,mungkin harus nyoba berendam di sini karna di sini airnya mengandung belerang.
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Dan untuk menikmati semua ini kalian cukup merogoh kocek Rp 15rb 😊.
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📷 @rezamaulanamalik
B(r)agging
Other news.
As old sites are apparently on the verge of disappearance (Soakersforum), new ones appear. Ultimatehotsprings has just launched and notes: 
'This Website is dedicated to everything Hot Springs'. 
Despite this, it's all Americana with it's hot springs. Nowadays, even babies (Willy Cosmo's guide to hot springs) are blogging and dispensing advice on hot springs.

the_hot_springs_trail shows a copy of his book
Win a FREE COPY of the newest version of the guidebook when it comes out! For details, see the most recent post on my Facebook page - The Hot Springs Trail.

Good luck!

#thruhiking #wilderness #thrusoaking #hotsprings #hotspringstrail #guidebooks #longdistancetrails #bikepacking #packrafting #peakbagging #ridgerunning #farmersmarkets #wildlifeencounters #offthebeatenpath #thetraillife #getonthetrail #yougotthis
Hot spring resorts are opening in Taiwan (source and source).

And in Japan spamusement park has opened (kyodonews, Jul. 29):
'A Japanese city [Oita] boasting one of the world's largest hot-spring resorts opened a special amusement park on Saturday with a hot-tub merry-go-round and other rides featuring immersion in its famous thermal water.
The "spamusement park" will operate for just three days at an existing amusement park in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, after the southwestern Japan city successfully raised funds to set up special rides featuring the local hot-spring water'.
Exploration
The Guardian (Aug. 18) has a photographic expose about
'The joy of naked bathing.
The young, the old, the slender, the majestic … Ruth Kaplan travelled the world taking shots of bathers lost in thought in hot springs, saunas and public bath'.
More nudity and soaking, a call to enjoy the nakedness of Japan (Gaijinpot, Sep. 11)
'The traditional onsen is a good place to start exploring the simple joys of getting naked — not for anyone else, but for ourselves'.
Less hot, the Beijinger (Aug. 14) reports:
'A newly-cleaned river located along Beijing's south Fourth Ring Road has been turned into a public bathing area by opportunistic nude bathers.
...
Public nudity is frowned upon in China, but that hasn't stopped some people. Last month, security guards were assaulted by a group of seven men they attempted to stop from nude bathing in Fuyang, Anhui. In March, a group of men was spotted swimming in the nude in a clean water reservoir in Hui'an, Fujian'.
Authorities in Vietnam are more relaxed. ChannelNews Asia (Jul.29) 
'I first heard about people swimming in the nude at the banks of the Red River two years ago. Nudists in Hanoi, Vietnam’s conservative capital? Bizarre, but true.
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The origins of the club are unclear, but bathing in the buff is not new in Vietnam. The practice is common among ethnic groups in the rivers and streams of the country’s mountainous northwest, but it is still largely considered an oddity in big cities. Nudity is not illegal except in crowded public places, cultural or religious settings, which explains why the Red River nudists have never been bothered by the authorities'.
Strict
Over to the local tidings.
Heading for Marobo hot spring, Timor? Atlas Obscura (Sep. 28):
Know Before You Go
The roads from Maliana or from Bobonaro are paved but dangerous, with massive potholes and segments of road that have collapsed. The dirt road leading down to the hot springs is very steep and slippery. To reach this location, you need a 4x4 vehicle or a motorbike, but most of all, you need an experienced driver.
A list (WellandGood, Aug. 18) of global hot springs dreamy and rejuvenating. Thailand's Pai is one of the eighth.

ammbertrekked at Pong Dued:
Hot springs chilling
#thailand #hotsprings #hot #chillin #jungle #chiangmai #trekking #fnez #livefree #green

lookped_ya at Romanee hot spring (Phang Nga):
สวัสดีพังงา แช่น้ำร้อนกัน.😛🙃
yeklakwatsera What to do this weekend 🌿 🤔 .
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#livealittle #rain #hotspring #redrocks #river #wander #wild #nature #awesome #wilderness #adventure #wanderlust #travel #free #islandgirl #naturephotography #traveler #fresh #naturelover #gopro #hero4 #photography #isla #philippines #love #livetoexplore #yeklakwatsera 👣
A note to nature lovers on visiting Poring (Malaysia) hot springs (and nature reserve):
 #Poring #Hotsprings #SabahParks
Does this mean it's encouraged outside the park? 

lleewoon at Panchor, Sarawak:
 | 暖 |
The smoky air is real. Cold and rainy season definitely makes you need a remedy like this.🔥#hotspring #MalaysiaDay #thankful #讲去就去 #roadtrip
Coconuts Jakarta (Jul. 31) has this curious and rather depressing news:
'On Sunday, local police arrested 9 men at a hot spring located in Songgoriti, Kota Batu, East Java. Police allege the men were skinny dipping in the pool when the police raided the facility.
...
The men, ranging in age from 18 to 42, were subjected to, according to media reports, “marathon questioning” by the police. But in the end, all were released after the police said they could find no evidence of any crime having been committed'.
To finish a couple of Indonesian photo's:  
 
bellajoy93 at Penantahan:
Jumping in between the hot springs and the river 💦🏞#hotsprings #river #girlieday #naturesspa #relax #chilling #bali #baliretreat #wildswimming
 
iceteaworld at Berastagi:
After hike therapy #vulcano #hotspring #gadventures #gadv #sumatra

Monday, 17 July 2017

Insomnia

inhinyeranglaagan at Kili, Abra, Philippines
Below the hot spring is a small steam cave. #hotsprings #experiencethephilippines #explorephmag #SiAbra
Stepping outside the region, the ever popular Peninsula hot springs of Australia have partnered in the research project named:
''Indulgence or therapy? Exploring the characteristics, motivations and experiences of hot springs bathers.'
One of the very few forward looking and consumer driven hot spring institutions on the globe, the link provides an abstract:
'Analysis revealed that “relaxation,” “peace and tranquility,” “indulgence” and “escape” were the most important motivators for bathing. Most respondents reported general health benefits (98%) and better sleep (82%) from bathing, one third experienced fainting/dizziness. One third of respondents also had medical conditions. Significant benefits were reported for back pain, arthritis, stress/anxiety, depression and insomnia. These results suggest that while relaxation is currently the major driver of hot spring visitation, balneotherapy warrants consideration from Australian health practitioners and insurers as a complementary therapy'.
I don't known how much this is reflected by other significances (natural environment, social interaction, prospects of a day vacation), bathing does seem to drive the above. A common feature (whether it's the onsens of Japan, the sauna's of Scandinavia, the hot spring holidays of the Tibetans, the mineral bathing culture of Germany, the Turkish baths or the hot rock baths of Bhutan) communal bathing and thus leaving behind one's social setting are ever increasingly needed in today's complex world. 
We need more. 
We need more variation (if only, the above examples of global bathing cultural reflect there's more than 1 way to bathe). 
And it's our common interest as a society to be as physically and mentally healthy, so why not have society assist in pursuing soaking?

Nowhere
It's regional stuff that's our next focus, starting off with a photo and an experience from Burma. 
 
Day 5 (100517) - Khaung Daing Nature Hot Spring, Lake Inle Myanmar. Now who would have thought there would be a hot spring in the middle of nowhere! After a 25-minute ride into a more rural part of Lake Inle, we arrived at the destination only to ask ourselves what we were doing going into a hot spring when the sweltering midday sun was already all around us. Nevertheless we got into our swimwear and dipped in.
There were 4 pools with unique temperatures: hot, warm, cool, and dead rat -- we didn't find out what temperature dead rat was -- and I was confused how they had different temperatures when it was supposed to be a natural hot spring. Perhaps only the water was from the hot spring, and the temperature was controlled by a heater. The hottest pool was a challenge getting into, but slowly and steadily we all got used to the heat, just like how we did with the Burmese weather. With the backdrop of lush greenery and hilly contours, it was a portrait of serenity.
Think Geoenergy (Apr. 6) has an article on the creation of a geothermal tourism village near Kamojang, West Java, Indonesia.
'“In addition to the drilling activities, we will build a tourist village area around the drilling site,” said President Director of PT PGE, Irfan Zanuddin in celebration activities on Exploration Wells BDN-B / 1 at the location of the PGE at Bukit Daun this week.
What a geothermal tourism village actually entails, seems unclear.
ruthmichellecody exuding a different kind of energy. I doubt that's a common practice, rather more a risque photo shoot.
#Baliblues #happy #naked #travel #getnaked #bestwaytobe #simple #lovelife #travelphotography #mountbatur #hotsprings #bali #indonesia #beautiful #landscape #nudity #thetoplesstour
Vital
Malaysia's peninsular has quite a few of spruced-up hot springs that are so to say neither fish nor flesh: not natural enough, nor worthy of an extended stay. 
With the odd (high-end) exception of Banjaran. 
And with this mind, the future has been foretold. The edgemarkets.com (Jun. 14) reports:
'Anzo Holdings Bhd secured a RM10.17 million [roughly 2 million $US] contract to revitalise Selayang Hot Spring near Selangor's Batu Caves'.
More Malayan hot springs. KLnow (Jul. 12) has a list of 12 soothing hot springs. All with quite a bit of cement in sight.
Hype.my (Jun. 23) has another list with
'... 8 local hot springs you should visit when you need a little “me time”.
Or as the title of the article says to rejuvenate. It manages to extend the list to Borneo so it's just slightly less concrete based.

dianne_ditona at Hapao Rice Terraces and Hot Spring
Eat some makeup and maybe you will look better from the inside. Add more bb cream to cover your bratty attitude. My value will not decrease base on your inability to see my worth. My ponytail is higher than your standards. Climb b*tch 😂 #relaxing #serenity #ignore #longhairdontcare #hotspring #skinnydeeping #jonsnow #knowsnothing
More concrete. Redeveloping Singapore's Sembawang hot spring is not only seen as a positive thing. Channelnewsasia (Apr. 23):
'Come end-2018, trips to this northern part of Singapore might be a tad different The National Parks Board (NParks) announced that the Sembawang Hot Spring area will soon be turned into a one-hectare park. Development of the park will start at the end of this year and is expected to be completed a year later.
...
 
Mr Teo Lye Hock, 67, another member of the brisk walking group, hopes the place remains free of charge after the revamp, calling it a “poor man’s spa”.
Another visitor, 59-year-old Mdm Pan Hiew Lian said in Mandarin: “I’ve already been coming here for more than 20 years. I don’t want it to be redeveloped because I think it brings a sense of nostalgia. Redevelopment might make it better, but it’ll lose its charm.”
...  
However, one historian said modifying the hot spring’s present form could also mean losing a part of Singapore’s heritage. Mr Alex Tan Tiong Hee, the honorary secretary of the Singapore Heritage Society, said the hot spring is one of the few remaining places of interest outside of the city region that serves to highlight Singapore's heritage.
"It’s something that doesn't just cater to the folks living around Yishun or Sembawang, (but it's also a place to show) tourists, our friends, that outside the urban areas we still have landmarks," he said.
Mr Tan added that landmarks such as the hot spring help create, among residents, a sense of belonging to their neighbourhood. Without it, that sense of attachment is reduced'.
denisa.e at Phapao, Takua Pa, Phang Nga province, Thailand:
Ripples towards the right. That's because the water was boiling... #naturalhotspring
What a common hot spring experience in Vietnam is meant to be (vietnamnet,  Mar. 13):
'In the early 21st century, Saigon-Binh Chau Tourist JSC invested in the 33-hectare Binh Chau Hot Springs area. It is ranked four stars and listed as one of 64 locations in 47 countries across the globe which foster sustainable ecotourism by the World Tourism Organization.
Binh Chau Hot Springs has 117 guest rooms and four-star villas. It is an ideal place for guests to enjoy special services such as mud bathing, hot spring water bathing, eggs boiled in hot spring water and crocodile fishing.
Rooms with two or more beds are wise choices for groups of tourists. Meanwhile, classical style villas are suitable for high-end holidaymakers who want to enjoy their trip with their loved ones.
The tourist site also features Suoi Mo (Dreaming Spring) hot pool with temperatures ranging from 50-60 degrees Celsius and hot herbal mud tubs. Hot spring water and mud combined with herbs can help people recover their health and cure skin diseases, fatigue and digestion problems.
Furthermore, Hoa Rung Restaurant capable of receiving 500 guests at a time serves both a-la-carte and set menus replete with Vietnamese, Chinese, Asian and Western dishes. There are VIP rooms for those who want privacy.
Tourists can also take an electric car tour around the site, play tennis or badminton and shop at stores'.
Bearing
Having had the region's precious little web-bits behind us, let's see if there's more to note on the wider area more or less on-topic. 
It's interesting to follow where the (soaking) market is going. Leader New Zealand has seen quite a few new developments of hot spring pools with high degrees of privacy (and exclusivity) at area's not known for natural waters but these have been bored. On the flip side it seems that the busier leisure parks are facing tough times. NZ Herald (Jun. 18):
'One of New Zealand's most popular tourist attractions is cutting back its opening hours for a refurbishment as it battles "high losses", sparking fears from staff about imminent job cuts.
The Waiwera Thermal Resort - which is owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Khimic - will operate for just three days a week from this week, with the "closed" sign to be outside from Mondays to Thursdays'.
China's answer: more opulence, less riff-raff. heluxuryasia:
Did we talk about take a dip in a such amazing design spa and private hot spring? | Who wants to join 🙌 #DusitDevarana #HotSpring #Canton #Conghua #Guangzhou #China 🍃🌞🍃
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📷 @dusitinternational #DusitHotel #PoolGoals
Secret hot springs, not so secret anymore. Otherwise known as hitou (In Japan), on tofugu (Jun. 15) the secrets of the umm ..., secret onsen are revealed. More or less.
'Hitou are tough to get to and they can be dangerous depending on the location.
...
If you do go, I implore you to do extra research as well. And make sure you're prepared. Transportation can be less than ideal, and cell signal will likely be nonexistent. If you're hiking, bring the right gear (i.e. towels, headlamps, bug spray, snacks, etc). Do your research on surviving bear attacks (seriously, depending on where you go). And, because these onsen are mostly "wild," there may not be a temperature control system. You can get scalded, or even boiled, if you're not careful. Use common sense and be careful! We're not responsible if you die or get injured!
Still want to dip your toe in after all that? Let's put on our hiking boots (then take them off again when we get there) and look at Japan's ten best hitou'.
When I skim through the list, somehow I think some secrets are pretty main-stream others though look like dream, bears an' all.

Another guide on how to enjoy an onsen. News.com.au (Apr. 18):
'After my humiliating nudie run, I finally began to relax. I leant back against a rock and looked up at the night sky. Snow was falling out of the dark onto my frozen hair. My body was deliciously warm.
They say the best way to forget a fear of public speaking is to picture everyone in the audience nude. Possibly the best way to overcome a fear of nude bathing is to remember that everyone else in the onsen IS nude — not just you.
Natural hot water at vulcano galunggung in tasikmalaya (cipanas)! 🌋💥🙌🏻🌊🌠First Tourist at this Place! After hiking to the top of the vulcano and to the crater this hot Bath was wow so good for me! Beautiful landscape! Beautiful People!
#tasikmalaya #Galunggung #nature #hotspring #backpacker #backpackers #travel #traveler #traveling #travelingram #instatravel #instatraveling #summer #happy #travelawesome #feeling #experience #germany #0711 #stuttgart #beautiful #love #travelgram #life #enjoy #instamoment #goodlife #backpacker_pics #iwasplacesiknow IFD @mige.c
Cats
In the past, I have reported on the Idaho (USA) hot spring bicycle route. Little did I know that the US also contains a even
'The Hot Springs Trail From Santa Barbara to Canada'.
I'm not sure why the trail (it's for hiking) heads to Canada (rather than head to the Pacific), but that seems the way. The Whole Food Hiker (otherwise known as Aria Zoner) has some background on this hike (Dec. 2016) which resulted in a publication.
Postholer has more:
'The Hot Springs Trail (HST) is a brand new long trail pioneered by veteran thruhiker Aria Zoner. It stretches 2,390 miles from Santa Barbara, CA to Priest Falls near the Idaho-Canada border. On the way it hits an amazing 80+ hot spring complexes'.
One should note that there are not that many hikers who have made the whole trip ... Or soaked in all springs. The official guidebook can be obtained here.

On the subject of guidebooks, does one know that Sally Jackson has just finished penning her new issue of the Aotearoa encyclopedia of soaks otherwise known as Hot Springs of New Zealand.

arrinko0o at Muang La:
旅の疲れは温泉でほっこり♪
地元の人が通う温泉。のぼせたら隣の川でクールダウン。
いいお湯できてます。

#温泉 #なんとタダ #ちんちんに熱い #泥水… #トゥクトゥクで45分 #ラー郡 #ウドムサイ#hotsprings #ladistrict #oudomxay #laos
Finally, a  bathhouse in Tokyo started organizing lessons on topics such as comedy and gaming in an attempt to appeal to young bathers and bring back the disappearing tradition of public baths in Japan.
For example, one such session in the “Naked School” at the Hinodeyu bath house included nine men sitting around the bath, listening to an expert on the ancient board game Go.
Odd. Well, it's innovative and has got the media's attention (in this case vanguarddaily, May 29).
'At its peak, more than 500 people per day visited Hinodeyu, which is located near Tokyo’s Asakusa district. Today this number is only about 100, he [Manager of the Hinodeyu bathhouse] said. In the late 1960s, Tokyo alone had more than 2,600 traditional bathhouses or “sento” in Japanese, but since then there has been a steady drop...'.
June's topic was stray cats.

morgthecaptain at Pai hot spring, Thailand 
What will I even do when I don't wake up to your face every morning #9days 😭

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Addiction

icangdio at Gunung Ciremai national park, West Java:
Feels like a prince 👑 lol
#nature #hot #hotsprings #westjava #jawabarat #kuningan #ciremai #adventure
Well overdue, let's just check some photographic evidence of what's hot in Southeast Asia!

Starting off with Vietnam. Below what resembles a natural soaking environment, in fact it's part of a whirlwind tourist attraction.

alin_ov at Yangbay, Nha Trang:
😻😻😻
Bunch of buddies, some fun local kids, a natural hot spring in the remote forest Venilale in East Timor... sounds like a great moment for us.
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#weekend #trip #friends #mates #kids #local #hotsprings #nature #mothernature #jungle #moment #love #share #travelblogger #traveladdict #travel #traveldiaries #travelphotography #picoftheday #photooftheday #travelgram #instatravel #couple #expatlife #islandlife #roadtrip
Less tourists (above) in Timor, looks very soothing. Below the ubiquitous northern Thai soak at Pai.

sarahf49 at Sai Ngam, Mae Hong Son province:
Mud masks and hot springs #pai #hotsprings
Phenomena

Sembawang Hot Spring in Singapore
It was my first time here but the place gave me a nostalgic feel.
The families gathered there were enjoying themselves soaking their feet in the hot spring water, the kids were playing with the water and also waiting for their eggs to get cooked.
It had that familiar Kampong feeling which I haven't felt in a long time. Maybe it's time to slow down my pace of life and not get caught in the hustle and bustle of life.
Singapore's only hot spring which may or may not change if recent developments are to be believed.
But below, the Philippines still apparently having soaking secrets.

faithpatayon_1 not saying where:
 Immersed ourselves in this natural hot spring that lies beneath these volcanic boulders by the sea. Again; no tourist, no entrance fee! I could say that this is the most spectacular place I have known all my life! Lowtide was just in time for sunset which made the experience more phenomenal! Even the word "AMAZING" is an understatement!
Indeed, The best things in life are free!☝
Let's take care of Mother Nature the best way we can, it's the only way we can pay her back

#blessedbeyondimagination #naturalhotspring #hotspring #mindanao #philippines #wheretonext #philspots #pinas #sunset #cannon #love #leavenotrace #explore #secretspot
Inside SoutheastAsia, Abra (Luzon) Philippines
Kili hot spring 
Crocs
Suria Hot Springs Resort, Bentong, Pahang.
GPS Coordinates : 3.409379, 101.891356
I had a lovely stay at the Suria Hot Springs Resort. The hotel staff were all so welcoming and accommodating. Parking was easily accessed and secure.
Check-in was quick and friendly. Breakfast was fresh and delicious. I was upgraded to a lovely spacious villa with a hot springs pool and mountain views.
The only 'downsides' were the mobile network coverage namely Celcom, Maxis and webe (I'm using only these 3 telcos for my cellphones so please don't ask about DiGi and Umobile) are very very poor at the resort area. I can't connect to the hotel's Wi-Fi network at the villa at all. But the Wi-Fi was good in the lobby and restaurant. #suria #hotsprings #pool #Bentong #Pahang #instapic #travel #travelingram #traveller #travelbugs #travelling #visitpahang2017 #resort #eryabysuria #eryabysuriahotspringbentong #oneplus3t
Alas, not the natural soak we crave for (above, Malaysia), but that's what commercialism gives you.
Below northern Lao: less money, more nature.
arne_duehr at Xam Neua:
Hot Pool 🔥
#laos #hotsprings #hotpools #nationalpark #happyeaster #muanghiam #swimwithcrocs #travel
Pixies
antaurpe at Yeh Panes, Bali:
Right here.
Right now.
It's all coming true.
#infinitesourceyoga #spiritledtt #hotsprings #bali #indonesia #followyourheart #trust #goddess #pixiedust
Finishing this photographic addition, Indonesia. Above you guessed the private pools on Bali, below under the volcano near Sumatra's Brastagi.
 
monicasilaban at Lau Side Bukbu, Sumatra Utera:
jadi manusia yg berprilaku kemanusian jangan berperilaku kehewanan 😆😆

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Freefalling

didian9_ at Curug Cilengkrang (Java):
Hot spring
Habis seharian dikerjain sama mobil, malemnya camping cantik diiringi irama biola pengantar tidur, besoknya gagal liat sunrise gara gara mendung yang akhirnya ngopi di jembatan bambu dan siangnya berendam di kolam air panas yang didepanyanya ada kolam air hangat terus di belakangnya ada air terjun air dingin, di depan kolam ada sungai aliran air terjun... Bayangin dulu lah kombinasinya.. kebayang gak tuh #apasih
Well, yang paling berharga adalah ilmu baru dari orang-orang baru...
#longjourney #exhausted #experience #hotspring #visitindonesia
In contrast to the above, let's look at some detail to a very interesting article from Japan on it's own soaking culture. It looks into what could possible be the imminent demise of traditional mixed gender bathing in Japan.

Where elsewhere in the globe bathing habits are slowly appreciating the likelihood for bathing and recreating naked, trends in Japan seem to be in the opposite direction. The Japan Times (Dec. 10):
'The problems seen in Shiobara fit in with a wider trend that has seen a precipitous decline in the number of konyoku around Japan. In 2013, the inaugural issue of Onsen Hihyo (Hot-spring Critique) dedicated its cover feature to the plight of mixed bathing.
“Nobody else was writing about it,” says the magazine’s editor, Takashi Ninomiya. “I had a feeling that they weren’t as many konyoku as before, but when I actually looked at the figures, there had been a massive drop.”
There are no official statistics on the number of mixed baths in Japan, so Ninomiya turned to Keita Oguro, a veteran onsen photographer with an encyclopedic knowledge of konyoku. When Oguro first totted up all such onsen 23 years ago, the total came to more than 1,200. By 2013, that figure had fallen to less than 700.
...
“This is really unusual, isn’t it? They’re in total free fall, but hardly anyone is standing up and saying, ‘This is weird,’ or, ‘I want to do something to stop this.'”
However, when you’re talking about a fragile social accord that permits men and women to bathe naked in the company of strangers, it’s hard to know where to start.
...
Mayumi Yamazaki, a prolific essayist who has penned multiple books about onsen culture, including 2008’s “Dakara Konyoku O Yamerarenai” (“That’s Why I Can’t Get Enough of Mixed Bathing”), says that people in hot-spring regions would share a single bath as a matter of course: they bathed wherever the spring was.
...
Ninomiya explains that such hot springs are unable to perform large-scale modifications, such as relocating a bath. And if they stop allowing mixed bathing, however briefly, there’s no going back.
“It’s not something that’s happened suddenly — there has been a gradual shift,” confirms Yamazaki. “However, the rules have definitely become stricter in recent years.”
...
While there are multiple books on the subject, the most comprehensive online guide to konyoku onsen was compiled by a former flight attendant who uses the moniker “Mixed Bath Journalist Mina.” Succhi no Konyoku Rotenburo Taikenki (Stewardess’s Outdoor Mixed Bath Diaries; www.food-travel.jp) has exhaustive photo reports on nearly 500 onsen, each of them rated for overall satisfaction and how potentially embarrassing they are for female bathers.
...
Tucked away on the site is a page listing places that have disappeared since she started out. There are more than 160, and while many have closed for business, a significant number have simply taken konyoku off the menu. Some have divided their existing baths between men and women, introduced a rotation system or converted their facilities into private family baths (kashikiri). In a few unfortunate cases, a single konyoku bath has been split in two.
“I worry that genuine konyoku may disappear altogether,” Mina says.
Yet she’s clear about where the problem lies.
“The main issue,” she says, “is bad manners amongst bathers.”
...
The main reason that mixed baths have endured for so long in the face of official opprobrium is that communities have still supported them. When an onsen stops being a gathering place for locals, there’s less to stop it slipping into disrepute.
...
Ninomiya laments the growing atomization of Japanese society, even in rural areas that until recently were bulwarks of mixed bathing. He describes how it would once be common for agrarian workers to finish a day’s labor by piling into the tub together, irrespective of gender.
“There’s an amazing sense of community when you decide it’s OK to get naked and hang out together, rather than just being ‘Me, me, me’ all the time,'” he says. “I think it’s one been of the good qualities of Japanese people and I’m sad to see it dying out. Those kinds of places are going to disappear. We’re turning increasingly into a world of ‘I’ll do my thing, you do yours.'”
...
“Being able to take a bath, naked, with a bunch of strangers would be unthinkable in a world that wasn’t peaceful,” she says. “The number (of konyoku baths) may keep decreasing, but I think this culture is going to survive.”
Ninomiya, however, is less convinced.
“I think I’d like to do another feature on the subject for Onsen Hihyo,” he says. “But the title next time wouldn’t be, ‘Are konyoku onsen in trouble?’ It would be something more like ‘Farewell, mixed bathing.'”
How to reverse this trend? Is it possible? It is though very unfortunate if this trend is not upheld.

In this it's interesting to see that incoming tourists from Southeast Asia see some  curiosity in soaking and acceptance in that in Rome one does as a Roman would do.
From the Philippines (Manilla Bulletin, Feb. 26):
'To cap off a long day on the road, nothing could be better than to go skinny-dipping outdoors in an onsen or hot spring pool in the dead of winter before retiring in your traditional ryokan hotel room with wall-to-wall tatami mats and a comfy futon bed. Now, don’t let dirty thoughts as well as your misplaced fear of exposing your naked bodies to members of the opposite sex get the better of you. Although a private onsen is a communal experience, decent ryokan hotels in Japan like the Aishinkan in Tsunagi and Hotel Jodogahama in Miyako have separate onsen facilities for men and women'.
taveeruechanok at Tsurunoyu:
 à¸§ันนี้มาออนเซนน้ำนม~💦🍼
Singapores' Strait Times (Feb 12) has a travel article on a journey to Kagoshima, Japan.
'... we walk back to the bathhouse for the next stop: the good old-fashioned onsen experience.
This is where it can get a little tricky. There are separate baths for men and women, but every one has to strip naked as custom dictates.
I have never shared a bath in my birthday suit with so many strangers - any stranger, in fact.
But seeing as nobody bats an eyelid, I quickly feel at ease, even liberated'.
Then Thailand's The Nation (Feb. 15) notes how the bullet train arrival in northern Japan's Hokkaido island whets potential Thai tourists appetites. The island's main attractions: hot springs ...

Further afield, the Brits (Daily Telegraph, Feb. 13) are also in on the act: 
'Take the plunge into one of Japan's best onsens'
An expansive introductionary article on Japan's hot springs.
'Onsen baths are taken at any time of day (or night), after washing and always naked (but for the optional flannel). For visitors to Japan, they are not only a pleasurable experience but a great way to get beneath – or at least down to – the skin of this fascinating, inscrutable country.  
With 2,300 known onsen across the nation, Japan offers a multitude of places in which to soak up the local ambience, from the deep south to the wilds of northern Hokkaido. Here is a selection of my favourites'.
Happy 
 tildaaagc at Marobo
Such an amazing but extremely hot place 🇹🇱💕 #hotsprings #timorleste
More onsen news.
How to grab attention? Rocketnews24 (Feb 13):
'As Japan gears up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, local and prefectural governments are working hard to find ways to accommodate foreign tourists and help overcome language barriers at establishments like restaurants and onsen hot springs around the country.
Iwate Prefecture in the northern Tohoku region has been implementing a plan to welcome foreign travellers to the area since April last year, with a set of pictograms for local businesses to download and use on their premises. Titled “Ten Ways to Make Travellers Happy”, this collection of black-and-white icons is designed to catch the eye of tourists with fun graphics, which include an image of a naked samurai with a topknot.
...

Unlike the controversial onsen hot spring mark and the traditional temple pictogram, these icons are a lot easier to understand universally so let’s hope they don’t run into any problems!'
More onsen curiosa, an article from Australia: why not copy the onsen experience at home? Traveller.com.au's (Jan. 19) author visits a non-named so-called Japanese onsen, probably in Melbourne's sweltering summer:
'I'd hoped to recreate the Japanese bathhouse experience, even on this warm Melbourne day. And yet, I'm now questioning whether that was really a good idea. Everything about this bathhouse looks right, but it doesn't feel right. It's lost some of the magic, some of the adventure, some of the exoticism'.
What's wrong? It
'... feels uncomfortable and even slightly creepy over here in Australia'.
Odd. I mean I understand that feeling, but what the author describes as quintessential Australian is in fact nothing more than connecting with friends or nature. The onsen experience could be likewise, it often is. In Japan. 
But without the cultural context in the center of a busy city, in as stated the sunny summer, it might be wrong. Maybe on a cooler day, or nighttime. Author's closing remarks:
'... sometimes it's better to just enjoy and appreciate what you have'.
Problems
at Penebel, Bali, Indonesia
 #relaxing#hotspring#inpeacwithnature👌
Moving on. Soaking naturally (well with natural waters for a starter) should assist in the idea of using communal waters for bathing and recreational purposes. A recent study (so reports BBC, Mar. 2) reveals all is not well in public pools:
'Canadian researchers have figured out a way to test just how much urine can be found in a swimming pool.
The results? In some cases, about 0.01% of pool water is urine.
It is a small amount but likely more than enough for most swimmers - and enough to be a public health concern.
...
The University of Alberta researchers analysed more than 250 samples from 31 pools and hot tubs. The samples were collected in two undisclosed Canadian cities, from public and private pools, hotels, and hot tubs.
...
When mixed with chlorine in a pool or hot tub, urine can contribute to the formation of so-called "disinfection by-products" in pool water that can be harmful to a swimmer's health.
Those compounds. specifically one called trichloramine, can potentially cause eye irritation, respiratory problems, and has been linked to occupational asthma for people who spend hours in pools, like pool workers and professional swimmers.
...
Urine is not the only factor in the formation of those disinfection by-products - sweat, body lotions and hair care products contribute to the problem as well.
The Edmonton-based researchers suggested that a public health campaign focusing on pool hygiene, like taking a quick shower before jumping in the pool, might help reduce exposure to those disinfection by-products'.
I like swimming a lot. Unfortunately winter months mean a swim in our local pool. I found out some time ago that I'm allergic to chlorine, no wonder natural waters swim nicer
My advice is to shower prolonged before and after swimming; before to saturate your skin, afterwards to rinse all the swim water off.
With the above findings it's odd that there's no more widespread use of say Iceland's precautions or Japan's bathing habits. What will be the future? Culture as it is, sees less and less need for hygiene for oneself but also deplores the lack of hygiene of others. Everybody has their own swim machine at home?

Finally, a slightly lighthearted feature from China which sees tradition  as opposed to a sanitised future. Nextshark (Feb. 9) asks what's with the Granddads soaking naked?

'A wall that previously provided some modesty for a hot spring bath in Wentang District in Chongqing got destroyed after a flood knocked it down. However, even with the lack of privacy, it didn’t stop several patrons from doing their usual business.
...
These old uncles and grandpas from China were certainly not shy about their public display of nudity, as can be seen in the photos that circulated on the internet. No matter how chilly the weather is, they’ll still jump into a hot spring to go skinny-dipping'.
On Order
kaminkretys on how soaking takes place in Burma
 #hotsprings #Hsipaw #Myanmar #fun #adventure #travel #nomad
Cambodia? Khmer Times (Feb. 23) reports on the nation's only hot spring and don't be surprised plans to develop it:
'The Ministry of Tourism is preparing to develop a hot spring area in Kampong Speu province to attract more local and international tourists. 
...
Tourism Minister Thong Khon ordered development of the area into a special attraction for the country and for the province. 
... 
“The hot spring area is a rare tourist attraction and has features that can attract international tourists from neighboring countries to visit the area,” he said. “After an inspection and study, an expert group from Japan found the hot spring of good quality for the treatment of various diseases and for skin care and beauty.” 
... 
Ho Vandy, the secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, welcomed the hot spring idea, saying that if the ministry is taking serious action by cooperating with the private sector for its development, it will be good for the area. “The hot spring development will attract more tourists, both local and international, and generate more income for local people and as well as the private sector,” Mr. Vandy said. “It can reduce poverty in the area. “We should maintain some parts of the original area of hot spring for tourists to see. “However, some parts of it have to be renovated like in other countries because the hot spring in Kampong Speu is so hot we have to  cool it down for tourists to soak in,” he said. 
... 
Hot springs are rare in Cambodia. Te Teuk Pus is 100 meters in diameter. The surface of the water, which comes from six sources and smells like sulfur, is 80 square meters. The water temperature is 70C, according to the ministry'.
antaurpe at Yeh Panes, Bali:
Thank you, spirit.
#bali #bliss #hotsprings #infinitesourceyoga #spiritled #trust #yogini #healing #yoga #pixiedust #mermaid #sacred #sulphursprings
Indonesia's geothermal exploitation seems to be all systems go. Thinkgeoenergy notes (Mar. 9):
'Today, the Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Forests (KLHK) has given a “green light” to uses of geothermal energy or geothermal for new renewable energy (EBT) in conservation area in “order to support energy security and sovereignty of energy and to help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases ( GRK).”, as reported by Antara News'.
Whether or not this is a good measure remains to be seen. But considering already how poor legislative enforcement is in Indonesia, one would have some doubts. Or many.

The controversy surrounding conservation and geothermal development in this republic is witnessed in upcoming elections. Mongabay (Mar. 11):
'The governor-elect of Aceh province said he would revoke a proposal to drill for geothermal energy and build a power plant in the heart of Sumatra’s largest intact rainforest, a victory for environmental and indigenous rights advocates who are struggling to secure the broader landscape’s protected status'.
Simmer
Between the well visited cities of #luangprabang and #vangvieng there is a secret spot only known by cyclists and motorbike travelers. The hot springs just 20km north of kasi. We stoped for lunch and fell in love with the scenery, so we decided to spend the night. Swimming at night in hot water with the brightest stars above you. Can anything top this? #laos #hotsprings #motorcyclediaries #secretspot #slowtravel #offthebeatenpath #morethantravel_mtt 🇱🇦🏍✨⛰

The Laotian Times (Feb. 23) has a short write up on the province of Huaphan's hot springs: 
'The hot springs of Hiem hold the title of being the hottest springs in the country, with a water temperature reaching as high as 100 degrees Celsius. The temperature of the spring is so heated in that a common activity for eco-tourists is egg boiling (or simmering). In addition to indulging in a natural Jacuzzi session (and a protein boost), visitors of the hot spring can enjoy the various delicious cuisines of Huaphan and enjoy cozy, forest picnics!'
Paul Eshoo visits Muang La hot spring resort (Oudomxai) and has some pointers (Jan. 27) such as :
  • The hot spring has been left open to the local public for bathing. This is a very nice community-oriented touch, as it is quite often the case with such resorts that locals are kept out. For the guests, there are private elevated tubs in addition to the public spring, which are filled every night and lit by candlelight in a very romantic setting overlooking the trees and river below. 
  • The food is quite the highlight, with special attention made to using local ingredients, colors and presentation. My favorite was the sorbet made with organic dragon fruit. The chefs are local women from the village and ensure that all dishes have an authentic flavor. 
  • The staff are all local except for one foreign intern who helps with welcoming and coordinating groups. Local staff are able to manage most everything with very little backup from the managers—a key element for any remote, community-oriented lodge.
Tipped
hot spring recovery -- 11.15.2016 #selayang #hotspring #recovery #KL #malaysia
The Guardian (Jan. 17) has an article of Malaysia's travel highlights. 
'Winning tip: Hot springs, Sabah 
Kundasang is a beautiful mountain town in Sabah. I stayed at the Kinabalu Pine Resort, which has a great view of the 4,000-metre Mount Kinabalu. A lovely excursion is to Poring Hot Spring, an hour’s drive away in Ranau. It has many shaded bath tubs but my favourites were the pools with different depths, starting from half a metre with the deepest being about seven metres'.

Hot springs today in the hills of Pamplona Phillipines...
🌴💆💏🐊

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Lock up
The Strait Times (Feb. 28) has an article on the future of the island's hot spring, Sembawang. Jammed between Singapore suburbia and a military camp, the hot spring site has seen little recent development, though by no means is the site poorly managed In a pursuit of better and best, the site has now been earmarked for more development.
'There were mixed reactions from visitors to Sembawang Hot Spring when told that the area will be turned into a park as soon as next year.
Some people who have been visiting it for years were cold to the prospect and expressed dismay, while others were warm to the idea of redeveloping the area, which sits in a military camp'.
Though it doesn't exactly mention what the development will be, change vexes crrent uusers:
'But people like Mr Gui Kim Toon, 74, who see the benefits of development, disagree.
"It would be nice if we had some shelter to protect us from the sun and rain," said Mr Gui, who visits it two to three times a week. "It can also get very messy now - sometimes people wash their clothes here and hang them up to dry. Regular visitors even padlock their buckets - or in one case, a metal bathtub - to the chain link fence enclosing the spring'.
ออนเซนเมืองไทย
#hotspring #onsen #spa
#kanchanaburi #thailand
Finishing off this blog entry a photo from north Vietnam's Serena hot spring resort also known as Kim boi hot spring.


 8 am 🌿
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#onsen #morning #japanesestyle #hotspring #bath #private #nature #green #outdoors #familytime #trip #holiday #vscocam #hkig #vscovietnam #landscape
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