Monday, 4 April 2011

The rein of confusion

Duc My
Confusion reins concerning the hot spring of Duc My.

Duc My is a village located along Vietnam’s Highway 26 which connects Vietnam's Khanh Hoa town of Ninh Hoa with Buon Ma Thuot (Dak Lak provincial capital), close to the Cambodian border.

However my driver speeds through Duc My, a village located on the banks of a nice river, just before the road leaves the lowland for the foothills covered by extensive sugarcane and cassava fields.

It is 9 km after Duc My village that there is a turn-off to the left down a 100m wide dirt 'avenue' before we halt in front of a house. An attentive man sells an entrance ticket (5,000 VND, about US$ 0,25) and explains to proceed to behind the house.

A short way after the house one comes across two shallow ponds. Around the ponds are a number of shaded picnic tables. Just upstream of the ponds is a 3m high, 10m wide piece of rock which emits both water and steam. The host who had accompanied me illustrates nature’s oddities by simply announcing that the water is 70-72 degrees. That’s Celsius.
The water body (see photo below) is a man-made 1 m wide basin halfway up the rock, roughly 3m long. There’s another basin, same size, equally hot.

One can scramble over the rock, there are quite a few holes from which hot water streams.
It all doesn’t look soakable: the ponds are too shallow and look very muddy, the basins are for boiling eggs or such. Vietnamese guests seem to have found the only way to use the water: adding it to their noodle lunch.

I scramble around and must conclude that, no there is no way to soak.

I return to the house and try with help of my driver and the host's son try to clarify one or two things. For one, I always said I wanted to go to Duc My hot spring and my driver went straight to this place (without any need to seek questions), so this must be it.

However at the spring site itself, they refer to this place as Truong Xûan (Suan). Then there is this reference to a hot spring, about 5 km past Duc My called Ong Me with some descriptions which remind me of Truong Xûan, though it distinctly says it is not Truong
'Beside Truong Sinh [or Xûan?] Hot Spring that is very well-known, tourists coming to Ninh Hoa District, Khanh Hoa Province recently rumoured about a new hot spring which has a very peculiar name of Ong Me'.
The description though is not of Truong Xûan.

The attendee and taxi driver have not heard of Ong Me, which if closeby seems a bit odd. Is it thus another hot spring?
Or not? Then again this reference of Duc My hot spring has another description of it’s location,
'close to National Highway 1'.
Which it is not.
But the other two sentences would not conflict with what I experienced.

And a reference to Truong Xuan hot stream:
‘located in Ninh Tay Village’.
Which according to my sources is correct. But surprisingly it also adds that
‘the precious natural mineral water is processed into beverages’.
Which I observed no proof of.
Why can't life be more simple?

Mr Rakuda of his hot spring journal fame, has visited what he also calls Duc My and the photo's posted are very similar to what I experienced. Translation of the text does not add much to the above other than that back then (2005) he did bathe in the lower pond ... (I believe).

I've been able to find an experience from 1995 though other than hot nothing new (or old).

Odd as it seems, but there is a project underway to build
Truong Xûan Hot Spring Heath-Spa Resort which the name would imply would be at exactly the same place. The first reference I found dates to 2003, but clearly nothing has come about. Even though a real estate agent is trying to sell something under this name in 2004. More importantly Wellness Vietnam
('Consulting is dedicated to the design and implementation of client-centric, cost-effective spa and wellness solutions')
now lists the project as going to be completed this summer as well as a project nearby in Ba Ho (which when visited was well under way). The above link to Wellness Vietnam though is to a cached page, it's up to date page has no reference to either projects ....

'Hot springs, near Nha Trang. Khiet showed us some very natural hot springs tucked in the foothills on the way to Nha Trang. It was beautiful to see springs kept so naturally'.
Funny that, natural cemented wall. Photo by

Khanh Hoa province through Thap Ba hot spring Center has become a major destination for hot spring lovers. That said until recently Soaking in Southeast Asia had listed a number of other soaks, such as the already blogged Tubong and this entrance's Duc My. We will have to contend that until further proof Ong Me is another hot spring in this province.

But there are possibly more hot springs. Danh Thanh is often used in texts on Vietnam's potential for geothermal electricity as well as in mineral water sales.

Then there is this link that names Danh Thanh as well as another hot spring:
'By 2003, Khanh Hoa has registered 10 hot springs with average reserve of more than four litres per spring every second. The province’s famous hot springs are Danh Thanh and Suoi Dau'.
Ten? Suoi Dau?
Suoi Dau is more
better known in the province for being an industrial zone as well as the place where a former colonial Alexander died (source):
'The grave of Doctor Alexandre Yersin is located on top of a nameless hill at the Suoi Dau area in Dien Khanh district'.
My hunch is that they only mean spring rather than hot. But then 10 springs are not much ...

Getting there: From Nha Trang head north to the town of Ninh Hoa and take the main road out to Buon Ma Thuot, After passing Duc My village (about 5 km) it’s about another 11km on the left side of the road.

Soaking experience: Too hot

Overall impression: Due to the lack of soaking possibilities, not really worth a visit unless passing through.

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