Saturday, 5 March 2011


Guiding help
Insightguides probably has one of the better maps on Vietnam (including Lao and Cambodia), at least in my opinion. The province of Khanh Hoa, one of the lower provinces of Vietnam’s central coast, contains references to no less than 3 hot springs. The northern most hot spring of the province is that of “Tu Bong”.

Other references to this hot spring on the internet are scarce to say the least. However during the first week of March, I was in the circumstances to be able look into it’s existence first hand.

It’s clearly described as being short of Dai Lanh pass (see source: “There’s a hot stream called Tu Bong, 9 kilometers to the south of the Pass”) which forms the border between Khanh Hoa and the northerner province of Phu Yen through which Vietnam’s highway 1 has to go through. Somewhere near the town of Hai Trieu. With just this info, my taxi driver (with whom I could only communicate with grunts and hand signals) was sent up and down the highway, trying to gain info from the frequent petrol stations.

Cross the track
Eventually, after 70 plus km (possibly 74 km?) from Khanh Hoa’s capital of Nha Trang, we were close, but we needed to walk the remainder towards the spring. A very non-descript village was where we were.

We followed a sand track 100 m downhill, crossed the railway line, 10 m left, 10 m down, 30 m left. Our track joined another track presumably also from the main road. Along the track were a few low houses with incessant dogs barking as we continued through what was left of the village. At the last house, my taxi driver ascertained we were still on course and we continued the stroll through barren rice fields and along a plot used as burial ground.

Out in the near treeless open we could see towards the sea and in the distance were the dunes that formed the connection between the continent and the Hon Gom Peninsula, Vietnam’s eastern most point. Just beyond the burial site we saw a lone waterpump gushing water which produced some amounts of steam. Evidently this was the spring.

The pump like structure was based on a cement platform, 5 m in diameter, which protruded from the remaining swamp by like 60 cm. The large discharge flowed over the cement and found a way to the swamp around it.

It was too hot to touch. The waterpump was also fed by a metal pipe which came from where we had come from. Later I learnt that this pipe was the pipe which brought the hot water here. It was explained from 8 m away but I had noticed on the way down that there was a small stream, 200 m away from the tap, near the houses of water which might have been from a hot water source.

On return I established that yes it was warmer and it tasted soda like, similar to what was coming from the tap. On the tap itself was some coating which my driver said was salt, from the sea, but tasting it, it was soda.

So a find? Yes there is a hot spring in Tu Bong, but where does it actually come from? A mystery.

Clearly the locals attributed no significance to this source of hot mineral water. I was told it’s only use was for de-feathering fowl after slaughter, which by the amounts of feathers lying around the site must be true. Odd that that would be the only the use for such a unique product.

Elsewhere some of the scarce references note that Tu Bong would make a great site for geothermal power generation and why not if it's not being utilized otherwise?

No piccies though. Ever since I bought Olympus
µ-550WP camera I’ve been plagued by my folie decision to be blinded by the fact that this camera can shoot underwater. But it sucks, the memory card is more for phones, meaning you need to keep a card adapter (or cable) with you if you want to upload to computer. It has a specific battery which can only be loaded with a battery charger larger than the camera itself (excl. the cable and plug; plug is nearly bigger than camera). It came with a handy camera bag which if not closed properly will mean that camera will disappear and is certainly not a good place to store extra memory card / battery. Anyway setting the thing is near impossible eventually leading to me (on this occasion) losing pictures of three hot spring visits. Thanks Olympus for such a fine product.

Anyway not much is lost with Tu Bong.

Getting there: approximately 14 km north of the railway crossing in Van Gia, the district headquarters.

Soaking experience: none.

Overall impression: yikes.

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