Monday, 20 September 2010

Hot? And cold?

Cumpleng: warm or not?

When is a hot spring hot?

A great question with many answers. Terminology varies on this. In Japan hot is above 42C, warm between 34 and 42C, tepid 25-34C and cold lower than 25C. This info is derived from Erfurt-Cooper and Cooper (2009), though they also present another full page of classifications and definitions on terminology from all over the world meaning there is always a possible positive way to describe a spring that’s less than hot.
acknowledges that there is no universally accepted definition. Definitions involve temperatures from as 'above air temperature' to 'above body temperature'.

The need for highlighting this definition is the fact that I visited two springs in the neighbourhood of Tawangmangu, Central Java, Indonesia that were definitely not hot nor very warm. Lukewarm, tepid?

'Air Hangat Cumbleng Indah'

Managed well
First visited was a spring in the tiny village of Cumpleng, 5 km southwest of Tawangmangu. A weary signboard (see photo above) has at some time in the past described this as 'Air Hangat' (translates as 'warm water' as opposed to 'air panas' which translates as 'hot water').

This past has meant that around the spring development has sprung up. Development in the form of channels, a fountain, a park, changing rooms and a number of open air shower cubicles. Visits probably dried up last century, though the waters still run out of one of run-down shower cubicles.
These waters are not hot, nor cool. Something inbetween. Taste of the water is neutral.

What's this? These are the 4 falling down shower cubicles
which are connected with a pipe to the reservoir on the right.

There's not much additional info on the internet though this site suggests the site
'has been managed well'.
It adds:
'Bathing is a source of water containing sulfur, iron, and other substances are efficacious cure skin diseases and rheumatism. A number of facilities located in this area is open and closed bathhouse, playground of children, and toilet'.
Emphasis on closed?

Going downhill with Suharto
We get back in the car and continue down the mountain along a small but well maintained road, through small villages, through plantations and along rice paddies. Then we pass a forested mount which house’s the last remains of Indonesia’s former president Suharto as well as those of the former rulers of the regency of Solo. Suharto's family having connections with the Solo regents, they share the same graveyard, Astana Giribangun, a magnet for pilgrims who wish to share Suharto's luck.

Not far beyond Astana Giribangun is another attraction near the village of Pablengan.
A roadside compound hides the tourist attraction of Sapta Tirta, the seven waters.
Payment (3,000 INR’s, about 0,25$US) is accepted for entry and off we trudge to discover the seven waters, one of which may well prove to be a hot spring. There’s a soda spring, a spring whose level never ever changes, a spring with elixir, a spring which water assists constipation, a salt water spring, all within a few meters of each other. The small hot spring (also described as Air Hangat) is located in a small walled-in cement box. Getting to the water can only be undertaken one by one, but a pilgrim is already bathing and hands us the mandi for us to feel the temperature. It’s not so warm, nor cold.

Not worth the wait?

On the same compound are two shower cubicles but that water is not hot either. Oh well, nothing earned, nothing lost.

Sapta Tirta is well publicized on internet. Especially this blog entry by Annyong Haseyo gives a complete overview of the seven waters.

The seven waters described (in Bahasa)

Getting there: Sapta Tirta is not too hard to find, there’s a very important looking road heading off the main Solo to Tawangmangu road towards Astana Giribangun, don’t enter though but continue for another 2 kms I think.
Cumpleng is also best accessed from the same Solo to Tawangmangu road, not too far before Tawangmangu on the south. Ask. It’s another 3 kms or so downhill before Cumpleng proper.

Soaking experience
: can one soak in not hot water?

Overall impression
: Only for die-hard geothermalists or others near to dying from boredom.


[1] Erfurt-Cooper, P. & M. Cooper (2009) Health and Wellness Tourism. Spa and Hot Springs. Aspects of Tourism: 40. Channel View Publications, Bristol, United Kingdom.

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