Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Bombs, nuclear bombs, eve, jokes and belief: an update

Soaking in Southeast Asia has added another couple of last hot spring reports, just a few more left ...

A potential terrorist threat?
Meanwhile, it's not often that a hot spring / wellness issue hits the front pages, but Britain's the Sun news(?)paper lead story on the 18th of October concerns the
'virus bombs'
that are fish foot spa's, aka Dr Fish. Luckily the story actually determines that the risks are
'extremely low'.
Energetic discussions
Not only are soakers cautious on geothermal energy development, headlines by bloomberg (September 18, 2008!) suggest that naked bathers are staging protests in Japan! Not a handful, but
'millions of naked bathers'.
However the article does little do substantiate the claim of staging protests and why specifically naked bathers are opposed to geothermal energy (are textilites pro?). The article does once more highlight the difference in interests concerning thermal waters and the lack of possible consequences that geothermal power production may well or not have on other uses.
Better documented is the Guardian's reporting from 2009, though now the soakers are in a lather!
'Geothermal developers insist that power plants and Japan's thousands of spas - or onsen - can happily coexist. But the 7,400 people of Kusatsu, more than 90% of whom depend on the tourist trade for their living, are not convinced. The fear that energy development will rob the town of its precious supply of hot, mineral-rich water has propelled them to the forefront of the anti-geothermal movement'.
A case in hand is just a snippet of very recent news from which actually misleads readers in thanking that developing the Innot hot spring into a geothermal plant will create a spa resort, despite Innot hot spring already being a well-visited tourist site (see onsen soaker's review)!
And then back to what this blog is about, the current day. The Daily Telegraph runs a blog (October 28, 2011) on how geothermal energy will be the answer to Japan's nuclear problems.
'Such a measure would invariably face opposition from the powerful “onsen” lobby – but would clearly mark a step in the right direction in terms of Japan finally tapping into the potential of one of its most powerful but overlooked natural resources'.
Surprisingly more than 70 persons comment on the blog.

Another two days earlier none lesser than the
Wall Street Journal (October 26 2011) again looks at the issues at hand, but with reference to Indonesia. Poor regulation are hampering the investment in geothermal energy. And then there is this:
'Some projects have been delayed by local politics. Geothermal start-up Bali Energy, on the resort island of Bali, started exploration close to 15 years ago and received most of the necessary approvals in the 1990s. Its plans to rev up production several years ago hit a bump when some groups expressed concern that tapping geothermal wells would drain a nearby lake. Hindu leaders, meanwhile, worried that meddling with nature’s pressure points could anger the gods'.
And pointing to the Lapindo mess (see below), the Hindu leaders may have a point ...

Finally another threat, mentioned from the Borneo Post (November 1). Melaka's chief minister is eying up the potential of his state's two hot springs for commercialization as spring water. It would even
'generate good income for the people'.
Stuff the soakers?

Risk management

Though geothermal mud usually has medicinal qualities, the
case of Lapindo in Indonesia illustrates how the lack of geological know-how and a gun-ho mentality can have severe adverse consequences.
The human tragedy is yet to be addressed, but the Indonesian government is
reported to be lining up $2 billion as compensation.

Back to nuclear and geothermality.
Revitalizing Fukushima's onsen's is highlighted by the
need to get Hula girls to the front. A past ploy to stand out from the crowd was to use Hula girls to attract customers to the spa town of Iwaki. With the re-opening of the local soaks imminent the Hula girls will need to attract previous customers and somehow let the visitors forget how close they are to Fukushima ...

Claims to fame
The Dead Sea, though not geothermal, has it's own medicinal qualities due to it's high salt content and it's mud. Less well-known are China's own versions of the Dead Sea. Highlighted by a recent posting on there is Daying in Sichuan (a multi-million $ resort pumping salty waters from 3000m depth; a great success as it is now granted the accolade 'world's most packed swimming pool'!), Yuncheng in Shanxi (or Salt Lake City, apparently a lake with medicinal mud) and Shouguang (Shandong, a 'don't sink lake').

Planet's most incredible and exclusive hot springs
contains a few Asian inclusions (Kamuiwakka, Beppu, Yangbajing, Oymyakon and Betiou) but none from Southeast Asia. Asia's strangest spa therapies lists durian rubdowns and Buddhist massages though why the latter is included is unclear. A list too far? Twenty truly odd relaxation techniques has hot stone therapy (seen in Ranong), cupping and Dr Fish.

And on October 31st Getty Images runs a picture of 14,325 soakers in Chongqing China.

  • Another condemnation of Bentong hot spring posted by Leven Woon:
    'The spring has gone to seed; it was filthy and several used condoms could be seen on the ground'.
    He asked the local council why so? As always they deflected responsibility and looked at the bright side:
    '“But beginning last year, the state awarded the management contract to Suria Management Berhad,” he said. He [Bentong Municipal Council urban planning department head, Affandi Razali] added that the company is now surveying the land and will soon clean up and revamp the place. “They will build a resort and a conference room at the place, and start imposing door fares at the gate,” he added'.
    Oddly enough, on the internet just the one link to this company. Now two ...
  • So instead visit another nearby hot spring, like ummmm ..., Selayang. Kenneth says reports that the third well is least hot but the reason for its' under usage is as follows:
    'We were told that people normally urinate in the well while soaking in it. Didn’t feel the need to find out for ourselves, so we avoided that one like the plague'.
    Despite this he manages to have a good experience and makes mentions of the possible positive attributes of this spring. He likes it so much that the next week Kenneth makes another pleasant visit.
'Les pieds dans l eau et le souffre, 45 degres !'
By Tonio et Marion, Dieng, Java Indonesia.

  • Bali soaking goes upmarket with the Ayu Kintamani Hot Spring Private Villa, eight suites (some?) with hot spring jacuzzi's. tripadvisor?
    'The hotel is a joke'.
  • Visiting hot springs can turn deadly. On their way to Ciater a traffic accident killed 4 potential soakers.
  • Despite Indonesia being a densely populated country, there are still hot springs to be discovered. This blog, based on an off-chance of encountering a Sumatran Tiger near Kerinici ends up in a very undiscovered and unnamed hot spring:
    'There I am alone in the jungle with nothing but the sound of running water and the melodious chirping of birds. Something about standing naked in the Sumatran jungle makes one feel a bit like Adam in the garden of paradise. Unfortunately, Eve was nowhere to be found'.
    And no tiger either, a very enjoyable read.
  • In Singapore more of the same. Wildshores blogs on a rare plant trek by involves the off-chance of discovering the
    'fabled hot spring'.
    'I managed to reach this series of pools with white stuff on the ground. The water in most of the pools were cold, but in this one, the water was quite warm! I didn't smell any sulphur though. Is this the hot spring that Dr John Yong told me about?'
  • Another newish find, Phra Nang Waree Raksa, a private resort near Klong Thom hot spring, Krabi. Bangkok Post (24 September 2009) has a nice write up of a visit there.
  • Soaking is healthy science tells us. In Los Baños there is also the belief that the waters can heal.
A final note, though Asia prides itself on hot spring eggs, Italians are reknown for hot spring spaghetti ..

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