Sunday, 1 March 2009

Excuse me! Do you mind?

One of the most talked about issues in soaking and taking to the hot springs is when to decide whether the soak is full and how to respect each others private sphere.

Having lived in Nepal and keeping abreast of what's (or better said not) happening I came across this recent photo from Kantipur publications, I'd like to share with you. It shows a hot spring near the town of Beni in Central Nepal, though not the Tatopani located on the round the Annapurna trail.

People submerge themselves into the Tatopani Pokhari (hot water pond) in Myagdi district. There is a belief that taking dip into the pond help one to get rid of several diseases. Photo taken by G. Khadka, 2009-02-13

I've visited this place myself, it's just a couple of hours walk west of the town along the river, nothing too strenuous. Back then (96/97?) it was already quite touristy, but only locals and nowhere as busy as above!

However it was great water, not too hot, nor cold and located directly next to the river. The village around had a couple of simple guesthouses to stay. As you can see, there a number of bathing fashions, from fully clothed to near nothing (in the back). What I remember was that most bathed in their underwear, which might not be so hygienic. Funny thing was that many people carried a slate rock around, twice / three times as large as their hand and when standing up to retreat from the soak the rock was held to cover possible butt cracks and /or more showing up. Quite weird I thought.

Nepal has got quite a few hot springs and is well worth a trip to discover. Besides this one I've been to the more Tatopani north of Beni, Tatopani on boarder at the main road to China and one directly north of Kathmandu, west of Langtang valley (Chilime).

There are more, from what I know in Darchula, Surkhet, near above photo's hot springs but another days walk to the west, Manang and probably more to the east.

In relation to the above, I found this blog entry on hot springs in Taiwan: Rules of Chinese traditional hot spring baths. It's quite interesting, especially if you note the lack of rules in Southeast Asia. Now where does the line lie between rules and none at all?
  1. Don't wear clothes
    'Requiring every person to soak only in their birthday suits seems to be a sanitary issue'.
  2. Clean up
    'Every person must wash before hitting the bath'.
  3. Don't confuse the buckets
  4. Don't move
    'Once in the bath, patrons are not to move at all. I ran my hands over my legs to try and alleviate the feeling of conflagration. Surprise: I got yelled at'.
  5. End it after 20 minutes.
Juliane then ends the post on a upbeat:
'Soaking privately in a modern hotel room will never compare to my first experience with the ahmas. Although I have to admit, it is nice not to get yelled at while naked'.

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