Monday, 9 November 2009

Updates for October 2009

A few changes on the site itself. I've created a mirror site dedicated especially for Thai soaking sites, aptly named Soaking in Siam, while at the same time I've added another blog site concerning Waterfalls in Southeast Asia. Though a soak is great, sometimes a cool soak can be just as invigorating. What's more, like where I live in Cambodia, there's only the 1 soak so visiting waterfalls makes sense, sort of. I'll leave the reader to decide on that ...

There have also been a couple of smaller changes as well on the site, most notably the linkwithin widget. It has instantly became one of the better referrers. See also the Top Posts. How the ranking works I don't know, but already 6 posts are graded at 10 (out of 10). By the time the whole top 10 is such rated I'll have to ditch this widget, doesn't add much.

News / Features
An interesting post by Roxanne Downer which is to be published in Spafinder titled
'Spa Customs around the World'.
Spafinder mentions its global reach but has only 3 hot spring spa's in Asia (out of 5,000), one of which is in Southeast Asia (
COMO Shambhala, Bali; which actually is not a hot spring spa ...).

Anyway Roxanne's article tackles the most anxiety causing issue, nudity apparently:
'Understandably, being undressed with someone you’ve just met can feel awkward. It certainly doesn’t help that customs regarding nudity at spas vary from country to country'.
If anything most people have problems being naked with people they know...
She then cites an Italian spa marketing manager who explains that it's due to Catholicism that nudity is a no-no in that country. Funny that in catholic France, Spain and Austria there are less qualms. Roxanne fails to guide us through on this the most anxious issue ....

Filipino (and Catholic?) Jhayelle Schluter takes undoubtedly a for Roxanne confusing bath in Japan.

Then feel reassured as:
'take comfort in the knowledge that, in many locales, single-sex treatment areas or hours and same-gender therapists are the norm'.
That's probably the conservative American in her speaking.

She then highlights how soaking in Japan is besides a ritual practice a social one, though again she lacks to mention that nudity is de-rigeur, even co-ed ....

Finally she tackles the American issue of utmost importance, tipping, though again no real guidance ...

Anxiety in China?
More on the aforementioned most anxiety causing subject. And in relation to China where they claim that nakedness is a western undesirability.
good piece (from last year) in the China Daily by Raymond Zhou. He states:
'Is public nudity legal in China? I do not know. I have not heard of a law that legitimizes or forbids it, but it certainly goes against China's social mores. The puritanical constraints of Confucianism essentially put these matters off limit for rational debate. ...
Paradoxically, the Chinese society has long put up with social nudity. Someone told me of women in rural places, young and old, who in the old days did not bother to wear tops in the suffocating heat of summer. ...
In a country with more pressing issues to solve, naturism is something that concerns a tiny slice of social life. People who are into it should exercise common sense and refrain from creating a scene; they should visit secluded locations for their activities such as sun-bathing and swimming. While the public should be more open-minded, the gradual pace of social acceptance is the intangible rule that guides such things'.
The father of the nation, Mao, even was partial to a skinny dip:
'Mao took a liking to swimming naked [but not co-ed]'
(page 354,
Mao, a biograhy by Ross Terrill).

Unfortunately Mr. Zhou may have said it all when stressing the lack of conformity in social mores and reality. Take Singapore a largely Confucianism based society:
'A 19-year-old student, who was one of the women participating in a topless car wash, has been expelled from her college ...
The student ... said she had only two months to her graduation'.
Though I personally view the whole idea of car washing half naked as a particular form of sexual exploitation (and childish), why a woman would get kicked off a school for doing what a male can do without any second thoughts seems obnoxious.

Promoting soaking?
'Guangdong Provincial Tourism Bureau has announced that October 25 will be Guangdong Hot Spring Tourism Day'.
China Hospitality News.
Possibly there may be some understanding as to what a hot spring is:
'Guangdong is among the best provinces for hot spring operation, construction and services. It now has more than 300 hot springs that can be developed, 130 have already been developed, and 70 already in operation'.
That's a lot of hot springs.
This list nearly contains 1200 references to hot springs and Guangdong.
Wonder what they mean with 'developed'?

A possible answer comes from the Philippines.
'Millions of pesos in government funds and taxpayers’ money were spent on an infrastructure project aimed to boost the tourism industry in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, but it has now turned into a “white elephant”, said incumbent officials of that city. ...
The officials are referring to the Mainit Spring Development project, where an unutilized swimming pool was built sometime in 2005. ....
However, as the project was well underway, it was discovered that the elevation of the swimming pool was way above the hot water source, and for still unclear reasons, the construction of the facility was stopped'.

  • More Sungai Klah at Netmoirs from a Solemn Rover:
    'Here is some facts about Sungai Klah Hot Springs Park (SKHSP) or Taman Rekreasi Air Panas (TRAP) Sungai Klah. First of all, this place is a must visit especially if you are a local as this place was carefully managed by FELDA, the leading agency spearheading plantations and agro-tourism industry. This place was inaugurated in December 2003 (mentioned above) with the building cost of over RM6 million. SKHSP is reputed to be one of the best hot spring in Malaysia. The hot spring is located 200 ft. above sea level at the foothill of the biggest mountain range in malaysia, the Titiwangsa Range. You pay a tenner per person, and RM7 for senior citizen'. ...
    'We wondered around not much as most stalls and shops were closed. It was Monday and it is such a pity that this kind of place are only lively in the weekends. Good news for xenophobics, if you hate contact and being a crowded place, this place is good for you during the weekdays!'
  • Pong Duet by Betty:
    'Pong Dueat is definitely not a world class attraction, but it is a beautiful, little-visited, quiet rest stop on the way to Pai. The hot springs must be a real attraction during the cold months, when mornings are positively chilly in the mountains. Also highly recommended if you want more scenery than concrete to go with your hot spring experience. ...
    As usual, Thai visitors were taking a dip all dressed up and we did not stick out'.
  • A write up on Binh Chau by Sarahelaine, the nation's southern most hot spring. Resort: quite expensive. Rooms: very clean. Hot springs: lovely. Massages: very nice. More on the trip there and back here.
  • Nyo Nyum August/September 2009 Edition of Cambodian Life . Click on photo above for full picture and text of Cambodia's only hot spring.
  • Yet again more info on Kampong Speu's hot spring this time from an updated guide to the province on
    'The country’s only hot springs are found in Kampong Speu at Phnom Te village. Known as Te Teuk Pous, it is well off the beaten track and is easy to miss. Its name is derived from the name of its founder Lady Te and Tuek Pos, which is Khmer for boiling water. There has been some development around the springs to create a pool to collect the hot water from the ground but the developer appears to have dropped plans to convert the area into a golf and spa resort [appears refers to leaving the place deserted ...]. Changing rooms, soaking tub and picnic tables have been built but otherwise, there are no other facilities, nor people in attendance The springs are sacred to the Suoy minority tribe that still uses the site for religious ceremonies. To the Suoy, healing spirits reside in the hot springs. Small archaeological finds suggest that Angkor kings would use the springs for their therapeutic properties and the area could have been part of an Angkorera burial site. The belief in the spring’s healing waters still prevail today as the Kampong Speu locals who make their way to Te Teuk Pous believe that it will cure them of afflictions'.
Co-incidence or not, two foto's highlighting the difficulties in dealing with English while visiting a hot spring in Southeast Asia:

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