Saturday, 10 January 2009

Angseri, a green paradise?

Below beyond the rice paddies next to the river are a number of huts which might be the green paradise of Angseri hot springs.

And now ... a green paradise(?)
Taking a cue from the discussion from the previous posting on Toya Bungkah hot springs, the visit to Angseri hot spring should be completely different. My source of information, describes it as follow:
'Imagine a green paradise nestled between lush rice paddies with small streams and creeks of water coming from everywhere. Need some privacy in a closed cabin to relax and enjoy the hot waters without any outside interference?
Welcome to Angseri Hot Springs!'
Well, this description is very enticing as well as what follows on their posting of their visits to this hot springs. I'd imagined it as distinctly local, non-commercial and very natural. Arguably I only used the search terms Angseri + "hot springs" which hardly gives two pages of references (that's not even 20), a couple of which were to the story above, two even to my own site!

However I must contend that there is much about Angseri and hot springs to be found, just not in English. This site gives a comprehensive review of the soakings site of Angseri, while yogamaharini has some photo's. These guys like showing off their girlfriends at the place. And for more photo's either see my own flickr site as well as the aforementioned nomad4ever.

But I was still imagining a "green paradise".

Next door
It started off well. In the regional town of Bedugul, roughly halfway between Bali's south and north coasts, I had asked directions while ordering a coffee. Our waitress who ominously knew from heart that it was just down the road (2 km) and 100m up a side road. Could that possibly be a green paradise?

The directions differed from what I had deduced from the previously mentioned web site. Still she seemed very certain of herself, so without any doubts we trundled off back from where we came, only to discover that the 2 km was in fact 10 km. The short side road, dipped straight down into a valley followed by an equally steep ascent. The by then rutted road met up with a nice two lane road coming straight from Bedugul! Where I had started off!

At this t-junction there was a clear sign with hot springs and some 10-15 minutes later we took the turn off through the village of Angseri. The road got worse as we climbed out of the village and finally in the forest, the road dropped all the way back down to a bridge around which a makeshift parking area had been created.

Who said paradise?
So far from civilization this must be a paradise ..., if not for the number of cars on the parking area. After parking in some deep mud, we paid the low entrance fee and followed an irrigation channel which headed for the nearby rice paddies. As we were staying on the same height as the irrigation ditch, the river had dropped away dramatically and after following the recently cemented staircase down, we also were next to the river.


Left of us was a canteen, in front an oval not so deep pool (for kiddies and mothers) while to the right was a path that passed through a number of huts and ended at the rock face next to a 5 m high waterfall. If it weren't for the many people wandering around, this would be nice, but it was holiday season. No foreign tourists by the way.

The huts were a collection of toilets, changing cubicles and 4 huts for more or less private soaking. More or less, as the huts were made of bamboo and to avoid outsiders looking in, plastic wallpaper had been used on the inside. Which was a bit flimsy. All these huts were taken and a nice line stood outside the changing hut.

Taking the waters

For me, this line was no problem: I am getting good at changing under a towel, possibly more persons should perfect this technique. After changing, I set off in the direction of the waterfall where the main pool was to be found.

A great looking pool next to the thundering waterfall, it was inhabited by some bored youths of the male kind. Being bored, they were very actively pursuing other avenues of entertainment: cartwheels diving into the pool being the most popular, as well as smoking which seems at odds with hot springs promoting health issues.

There seemed little regard as to where the ashes were going and little semblance of relaxation (but maybe I'm being an old fart), so the soak itself was not so comfortable. Once two Indonesian girls joined the pool, the shouting lessened but the acts of machismo crescended.

I took an awkward shower under the waterfall, awkward because the waterfall comes straight down on slippery and naturally uneven rocks.

Developed versus paradise?
So how much better was this site? It was tastefully (and cheaply) enhanced, acknowledging that the natural surroundings are a part of the attraction of the site. The waters were a bit tepid. But arguably the waters were not very clean nor hygienic, both of which seem to be the essential requirements of a public bathing spot. The aforementioned site (nomad4ever) did mention cleaning of the main pool, so some thought has been put into keeping the site clean, but much more could be attained.

The question then arises, why this not happening. Is it ignorance? Or is it something culturally? Signs of the times ("we want more") Or unwillingness?

Would a private company be in a better position to achieve this? I doubt it. So a public entity should just as well be able to achieve a site of both naturalness with high regards to health and hygiene standards. Would this cost more? Yes, but not much more.

As said the site is not often visited, probably I was unlucky to visit during the main holiday time. So is it acceptable for standards then to drop,? Neither I, nor other outside visitors would agree, but clearly the local youth have different ideas.

I certainly believe that the site can attract many more visitors. Why not? It's not too far from many other attractions and it's natural surroundings make it a great catch. Then again, why do we always need more?

Certainly a great way to relax if you can put up with the crowd. In the foreground the main soaking pool, the waterfall is behind.

Getting there: From Bedugal market crossroads, head down the left lane, rather than the right lane heading to the 'Botanical gardens'. Continue following this ( for 5 km) until you reach a t-junction with a clear sign indicating Angseri to the right. From here it's possible 10 km before a right turn to Angseri village. This is basically a one lane road, so continue driving onwards leading to a forest. Possibly park on the hill top, before the drop. The entrance is where the road crosses the next river.

Selamat Datang (welcome) di Air Panas (hot springs) Alam Angseri

Soaking experience: With a lot lesser people I might have been a joy, however with an over-influx of soakers the joys also dissipated.

There is certainly lots of scope for a pleasant soaking experience, both due to the natural surroundings as well as the large pools / private pools and accessible waterfall. On any other day outside the Indonesian holiday calender I would be great, but better to avoid and/or arrive early otherwise.

Overall impression: With the tasteful, yet unobtrusive improvements, it certainly was very nice. Then again it's not a green paradise. But still one of the best I've visited. Who know's? Next time I'm in Bali, I'll have to verify my findings ....

A more recent blog entry mentions

'hygiene looks very good'.
Yeah if you are blind! And while you at it, why do those photo's look so familiar? At least two of them I took myself!

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