Monday, 6 September 2010

Smoking hot

What now?
As with Songgoriti hot spring, Cangar hot spring can most easily be accessed from Batu city (East Java, above Malang). However public transport fails to make it this far up the mountain. From Batu one takes a minibus as high up the mountain as possible but at least in the direction of Sumber Brantas, which lies beyond Selecta. At the end point don’t walk. It’s still a long way up (and down).

Hiring an ojek (motorcycle with driver) seems to be the best option to continue. From here one continues up the mountain, passing apple orchards and potato fields. Eventually one passes the mountain pass and the road descends steeply.

At the bottom of this descent are a number of competing parking areas all providing access to the hot springs.
Entry is 3,000 INR (~2,75$US). From the ticket office (photo above), a trail heads down and across a small stream. Beyond the bridge are the hot spring(s?) themselves. Amenities consist of toilets and changing cubicles, 2 each for either gender.

Unfortunately one needs a long wait to be able to use these at best makeshift changing rooms, which at 1,000 INR are still not worth it.

The hot springs themselves consist of two large kidney shaped, half meter deep basins which on this Saturday (July 2010) are lined with soakers. Otherwise there is another larger cooler pool and an area where women can bathe, though this is half open to observation so why these separate facilities are required is beyond me.

The direct vicinity of the pools are far from clean, all kinds of refuse are just disbursed of with little regard to the entire situation. Most bathers are fully clothed, even males, another of this odd situations, what would men have under their singlets / shirts that need covering?

Positively, most women lay off their headscarves for the soak (see photo above), which begs the question why wear them in the first place?

Obviously I am the only foreigner and the only person with swimmers on. Though the waters are sufficiently hot, I have my doubts about the hygiene. As is common throughout Java (and Indonesia?) smoking seems to be a habit difficult to shake: many soakers while soaking are still smoking! Smoking hot?

Sharing opinions
It's not only my own opinion. Take this
blogger for instance:
'Hey, you know what my first impression of Cangar was? DIRTY!! ... No need to change into swim suit, just wear our clothes (everyone do that, why shouldn't us), and enjoy the spring'.
The former answering partially my aforementioned queries (not).

The area around Batu is well-known for it's mild climate and this is already a major draw for the many tourists who visit Batu during the weekend.

Nearby Cangar are caves used by the Japanese during their occupation of the Indonesia isles.
The entry on Cangar by describes slightly more details of these caves. Little info on the history of the hot spring itself.

On the way up from Batu, one can also visit the Selecta pool (an open air pool built by the Dutch and fed by spring water) and the Coban Talun waterfall.

Getting there: From Batu head for Selecta (north) and continue up the road and over the mountain pass. It’s at the end of the steep descent. In total it should be slightly over 20 km from Batu depending on where you start.

Soaking experience
: That’s a difficult one. The pools are great, flagstone lined with a gravel bed. Water temperature is good. But my fellow soakers could do with a tip or on hygiene …

Overall impression: Despite the misgivings of the soak itself and the lack of changing facilities, the air is crisp and cool meaning a hot soak is just what’s needed. The direct surroundings are also heavily wooded and management of the site is evident (though lacking).

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