Wednesday, 14 January 2009

There are limits ...

On my visits to the various hot springs on Bali, I've seen a number of different hot springs ranging from 'gleaming', yet exclusive Toya Bungkah, to the spherical Banjar hot springs. What would turn out be my final visit to a Balinese hot springs this time round, brought me to Yeh Panes located on the road to Batukaru temple from Tabanan, sort of located near the village of Penatahan.

Prior knowledge learnt, that Yeh Panes had also seen a commercial change over and was now run by a company ESPA with the slogan "Sanctuary for the Self". The web-site seemed uninformative and had not been updated recently. Maybe business was down.

The site
Located north of the regional important town of Tabanan, the route there is quite straight forward. Following the route to the Batukaru temple, it's 8 km north of Tabanan and well sign-posted. Precisely, it's located next to the river Yeh Hoo and one enters the car park by crossing the bridge and going up a lane to your right. The car park is located about 500 m from the road.

The privatization of these springs was more than obvious: an entrance fee was required for the parking lot, which oddly enough depended on the number of passengers rather than a single sum for parking. Probably the first hurdle to keeping the riff-raff out.

After strolling to the resort itself, the reception was very glad to announce that the fee for taking to the waters was no less that $15 per person. Contrary to the practice in Toya Bungkah, this included no extras at all, just the privilege of soaking. Well, that should be something special.

With the message that I'll first see whether it was worth it, I shimmied myself past the receptionist and took a look at the bathing facilities. Past a temple, where you can see the hot water bubbling up from within the temple walls themselves, one comes to a free form pool which was the prime soak. In better times water might have been cascading from a pool higher up (see photo's) but clearly this was the only part of Bali where it was not the tourist high season.

The main pool. Above it should be overflow from the upper pool which would run over the rocks into the lower pool.

There were 1 or 2 bathers in this lower pool but certainly not many. Up beyond the higher pool are a number of 'private' spa's, though not so private as to ensure skinny dipping without giving any unsuspecting visitor an eyeful. Then again maybe the company has no qualms about other guests checking the private spa guest outs. There were about 3-4 of these enclosures, two of which were in use by guests, 1 enclosure was unoccupied and 2 enclosures looking dilapidated. Apparently there are supposed to be 9 of these.

To soak or not?
Well that didn't look like worth $15. I was surprised that on leaving I noticed many locals turning up; apparently it's just only the foreigners who pay $15, the locals can get in for $2,5.

Being in Southeast Asia for so long I'm quite used to this two-tier system of pricing, but I always fail to see why some extremely rich guy from one of the regions capitals can get in for virtually free, while other much less well-0ff foreigners are practically forced to turn away.

Being neither, doesn't help, but I still gave this site a miss. The pay was way too high for a tepid and not so appealing soak. The half dollar spent at Banjar was worth more than I would ever get here. And I'd already spent that half dollar on just the parking.

A private spa from the inside. Not worth it?

Then again I'm confused about the announced entry prices, there was no signboard and this site announces that east of the car park are "free" sites:
'On the eastern side of the parking lot are two public hot water spouts, which anyone can use for free'.
Backed up by:
'This hot spring also has a public pool in the east side of parking lot in which you can take a bath for free'.
Now, why didn't I know this before hand?
'Special for adult guest is charged IDR 5-10 thousands [$0,5-1] and foreign tourist IDR 30 thousands [$3]'.
Lonely Planet mentions $3 for the cool pool, while a hot water pool costs $15. Here it says:
'To use this facility, local community will be charge at IDR 25,000 [$2,5] while foreign tourist USD 15'.
Actually it's a pity here, that they fail to some how attract visitors and get them to stay. I've now seen quite a lot of good feedback from all the other visited hot springs on Bali. Why this is not the case here, I don't understand. Poor management?

The inner sanctum of the springs. From within this pond, hot water bubbles up.

Contrary to the amount of soakers, there is quite some good quality info available on internet concerning Yeh Panes.

How did these springs come
into existence?
'According to the history, there was a Kingdom named "Penulisan" with the King named Jaya Wikrama who was suffering from a serious skin disease.Upon the suggestion of the minister Satya Wacana the King
was then taken to a traditional healer named Ki Dukuh Tangkas at a village of Lampah at the northern part of Rajeg Urn forest (now known as "Jegu" village) by Ho river. On the way to Lampah Village/ the King was tempted by a monkey at pajeg Uru forest later known as beloved pet of the traditional healer, Ki Dukuh Tangkas. When Ki Dukuh Tangkas knew the purpose of the King’s visit, he then taught the King a healing teaching called : "Usadha Bhakti" through a meditation system. One day, when the King and Ki Dukuh Tangkas practised the teaching by doing meditation, by God’s Blessing a hot spring outpoured from the ground.
Ki Dukuh asked the King to take bath every "Kajeng. Kliwon" (a Balinese point of time) until the King completely recovered. To express his gratefulness, the King then built a temple on that location called : "We Brahma" or "Toya Anget" Temple. On the former place of Ki Dukuh Tangkas then built a monument later became a holy place called "Lampah" temple located on the eastern part of the hot spring.Later on the King and Ki Dukuh’s followers spread out to seek place for residence, some were back to Penulisan, some other went to the North-west later known as "Bangkiang Sidem" means "the King has been recovered" and the village next to it called "Penatahan" means "the successful journey of the King".'
As well as providing us with this interesting insight, the link above is an excellent link to background on Bali.

Anyway it probably existed quite naturally
until the Japanese set up shop on Bali during the second world war:
'They [the Japanese] also enlarged the spring and created the pools'.
Though part of the temple
may be ancient:
'We visited a shrine that the guide told us was 16th century'.
The link provided gives a good account of a (longer) stay at Yeh Panes.

recent history:
'In the 60's luxury villa's were built around the spring, but the financing suddenly took an end and the buildings were deserted. Then it was said that local spirits took over the site, and the sound of weeping women could be heard at night. To prevent that the spirits would stay here permanently the ruins of the buildings were used as sheds for pig and cattle'.
Recent history:
'It was established in 1994 following two years in advance it has completed the arrangement of its bathing place, swimming pool, restaurant and others'.
It looks that the situation has changed or is it reverting to the aforementioned stage of cattle storage?

Health claims
Though once again the waters lack distinct sulfur, they still seem to have some health claims (as well some sulfur):'
'Based on research performed by Health Laboratory, Indonesian Health Department the water of this hot spring is safe for taking a bath. It contains sulfur, potassium and sodium that are effective to relieve various skin problems. Hindu community in Bali believes that this hot spring has the efficacy to cure numerous health problems'.
'The very hot water [but others mention 37 degrees: not so hot] contains sulfur and sodium and some additional minerals, supposedly good for the skin'.
'The naturally hot water from the springs-probably Bali's hottest-contains sulfur, potassium, sodium, and small percentages of minerals, with no additives except an occasional dose of chlorine. The water, it is said, will relieve itching and heal skin diseases'.
Buleleng hot springs
Not so far away from Yeh Panes, are the hardly known hot spring of Buleleng or Mangesta. I didn't make it there; the aforementioned receptionist failed to inform me correctly or I misunderstood.

For those of you with time on your hands it could make an interesting visit as it's virtually unknown though nicely located.

Getting there [Yeh Panes]: follow the route north out of Tabanan towards Batukaru, it's about 8 km on your right just after crossing a major stream.

Soaking experience: not worth it. Agree?

Overall impression: It's a pity that investment / upkeep seems to have dropped as it's a beautiful location and much can be achieved. If you can afford it, it might be worth dropping by if you are on your way to / from Batukaru temple.

1 comment:

  1. I recently was lucky enough to purchase a hot spring 2 minutes away from espa, My source is extremely hot, I last 5 mins tops and got to get out. Espa is really lacking in heat and structure. I am making bungalows with private hot spring bath in them. It will be 3 to 4 bungalows.

    water seems to have an iron smell to it. and the algae turns red on rocks. very nice water.


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