Monday, 30 March 2009

Updates for March 2009

News on Southeast Asian hot springs is sparse. One possible exception is a report in the travel section of the Bangkok Post. Despite all the travel writings currently focusing on home tourism, one of the Posts reporters has had a probably all-expenses paid trip to Japan and reports on the attractions.
On the 5
th of March a photo report on Sendai was published. A caption to an innocent picture reads:
‘There are numerous areas boasting onsen (hot springs) in the Tohoku region. Many onsen bathhouses have both indoor and outdoor pools. In the latter, you can also relish the beautiful scenery as well as fresh cool air while relaxing in the warm mineral rich water. One inhibition for most Thai and even some Westerners, is the going naked part. But once you overcome it, the rest is easy and enjoyable. Keep in mind that you can use a little tower to cover your private part when out of the water. Sure enough the Japanese themselves do so too’.
Well, if this inhibition was so easy to conquer, why isn’t it practiced in Thailand proper?
More southeast Asia focused, an article from Vietnam. On so-called health tourism. Though in reality there's no news, just a report that if one wants to wallow around in mud, Thap Ba, near Nga Trang, South Vietnam is the place to go.
And what is a first hand experience like? From Kate's blog:
'We spent the afternoon at a hot springs resort about 10 minutes outside of town. There was a 7 step regiment for optimal health benefits from this mud bath/mineral soak wonderland. We were ushered into a tub with a Vietnamese couple which was full of cool liquid mud the consistency of a chocolate shake. A somewhat awkward 15 minute soak in this small muddy bathtub with another couple involved all of us pouring pails of mud over our arms, chests, and backs. Most local people were in shorts and tank tops and we quickly figured out why. The mud got well trapped in our suits, especially between the layers of the lining and the outside, and made us both a muddy, saggy, bloated mess! In this goopy state, we were instructed to sit in the sun for 10 minutes before rinsing. The ground and rocks were so hot from the super-charged sun we were forced to hop from foot to foot to not burn our feet. Quite a sight. After a thorough mineral shower rinse, we were hustled into a 3 foot wide channel of rocks which sprayed water at you from all sides - imagine car wash meets leaky dam. After the pressure wash, we were pointed towards larger mineral hot tubs to soak with more strangers. After that, on to the big, but still hot, soaking pool. Keep in mind that it's a good 85-90 degrees out so at this point, we were not only pretty pruney but quite thoroughly cooked. We cut short our 7 steps to mineral-induced health and headed home feeling silky smooth with just a few pockets of mud in our ears.'
More blog reports:
Yet again quite a few postings, but somehow most seem disappointed ....
  • Poring:
    ‘It was a good thing that the pool of springs closed at a much later time, 7.30PM. The hot springs were set up like a huge public bathing area, Japanese style. Some pools fit more than 6 people, while some were built for just one person to submerge into. The smell of sulfur was strong, and the water was extremely hot, but it was so inviting after hiking unexpectedly in the jungle. After the first dip, you could just laze in the water forever'.
  • Sungai Klah. Huge amount of photo's here. And here. And here.
  • Some shots of Bentong hot springs by Budleee Rants. His rant: '
    ... it was a hot spring pool. An abandoned and unkempt one that is. The facilities are nice, but there was no one to maintain it. As a result, the place was unkempt and the pool was full of algae and other free living parasites'.
  • Kerling hot springs. eXtreMesh has visited these springs:
    'Place was well maintained and the river was clean and cool to dip into. Well when it comes to the hot spring, there is nothing much to be expressed about. The hot spring is a pool with not very hot water, i managed to get in the water and even dance, but did not feel the heat that much. I also noticed that the pool was not that clean and rather slippery to stand in it'.
    Recommendable? Author comments:
    'Even i was disappointed with the place as i reached there'.
  • Camaguin, ardent or not?
    'After the falls, we went to one of the island's hot springs. And man, that truly was a heavenly experience. As I settled my ass and the rest of my body in the lovely 40°C water (that's 104°F to you Americans) I swear it felt almost like having an orgasm. Sweeet! I could hardly keep from moaning because it felt so damn good. I credit the hot springs for the lack of muscle soreness the next day. Sitting there, watching the mist rising from the water and being immersed in wet warmth was simply spectacular'.
    Would anyone be surprised that this was posted by I Am Woman, See Me blog?
  • A short impression by Phil and Julia of Pai hot springs:
    'Stepping in the water meant feet and ankles turned instantly lobster red.I couldn’t get more than my bum in the water and even that was a bit of a mission.'
  • Thaisticky rice has another short impression of the nearby Pong Duet hot spring:
    'At the bathing area they had a couple of nice looking hot spring swimming pools as well as private cabins or if you preferred you could just dangle your feet in the natural hot spring stream. As it was just after mid day and the day was already a scorcher the last thing I felt like doing was jumping in an even hotter bath of water so I gave the bathing a miss ...'.
    The soak season in Indochina has passed apparently. So much for health reasons for soaking!
  • Andy is still at it, this time from south Thailand, Ranong:
    'They [the hot springs] were really nice, and free because they are government owned. It was all paved and tile but the pools were good temperatures (controlled by valves) and there were a lot of locals there. Some locals told me stories of how the spring water had saved peoples lives. I don't know if I believe the stories but I do believe hot springs in general have good health benefits. The girl at my guest house said I shouldn't walk at night to the springs because its a little out of town and its dangerous, but I did stay until past dark. So I figured I'd test my luck, but I met some nice thai people before I left and they gave me a ride back to the guest house. It didn't seem dangerous but I guess in a boarder town there is more danger than in other parts of thailand'.
  • Blogs are an easy way of getting information out there without all the hassles of signing up, etc., etc. So easy, that commercial companies in Indonesia use them to plug their tour programmes. But sometimes they are not as appealing as the author may well think! On Banyuwedang hot springs, Bali:
    'Flights Banyuwedang from the hot springs that appear on the beach.... Because the uterus sulfur high enough, hot water is widely held even up to the island this summer because the water can cure some diseases, especially skin disease. ... here is hot water that contains sulfur which is located along the coastal region is supported with a rare population so quiet atmosphere can be created.'
  • Tangkahan in northern Sumatra (Aceh) is an area of wilderness and is managed as an ecotourism site. Some of the attractions are hot springs. This extensive report of the area mentions 2 hot springs.
On Thaivisa forum: Umphang (or as this site refers to Mae Klong) ‘
The hot spring itself is amazingly not ruined. Thais have a nasty habit of concreting, paving, and tiling over hot springs, removing all sense of any natural aesthetic and completely defeating the purpose of the hot spring (they call it "progress" and "development;" you might as well soak in a tub with a hot water heater). This hot spring is just a natural pool with a rock/dirt floor located a few meters from the river. So you can soak hot and then go jump in the cold! There is even a small tributary hot spring just at the river's edge where you can lay in both hot and cold simultaneously!’

1 comment:

  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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