Saturday, 21 April 2012

Concerning developments (mostly)

The Soaking family of blogs is expanding once more. Achievable or not, a blog focusing in Euro-soakers / soaking possibilities will need to take off, but the first step has been taken: European Natural Soaking Society. Herzlich wilkommen!

More of the seemingly never ending discussion of geothermal energy generation versus soaking. (8 April) gives it's views of this Japanese debate: 
'It is no news to anyone having been to Japan, that there is a thriving bathing culture in the country and this paired with strong traditions. Bathing in those “onsen”, or hot springs, is very popular.
So it may not be surprising that onsen owners have a strong voice when it comes to concerns about geothermal development. A recent article in The Economist [April 7, original article] touches upon this subject. The reason for concern is simple, onsen owners fear that geothermal development for power generation could dry out the hot aquifers that fuel the hot springs.
But with the tremendous energy demand of the country, following last year’s tsunami and nuclear disaster at Fukushima and the move away from nuclear power, geothermal as a sensible energy choice is now harder to argue'. 
To sway the onsen conservatives the ambassador of Iceland to Japan is drafted in. 
'... he [Icelandic ambassador] points out the example of the “Blue Lagoon” in Iceland, as likely being the biggest onsen in the world. The geothermal field there not only fuels the spa but also a geothermal power and heat plant. .. maybe as a side note one can say that the plant existed first, while the initial “pond” or pool was an environmental accident. Today the Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s largest tourist attraction attracting nearly double the Icelandic population in visitors'. 
This is of course a true point and well worth considering. 

However at the base of the case are small scale hot springs which could loose their waters, while the generation side requires more concerted larger scale efforts. And if then the result is an extensive hot pool pond, will this then suffice local habits? Will for instance traditional naked bathing cultures be thrown overboard in favour of mass marketeering capitalist seeking short term strategies? 
At the heart of the debate should be Japanese naked communication versus modern day perosnalised (and selfish) culture. 

More on this debate, again thinkgeoenergy notes that Bloomberg predicts that 50% of the global finance for geothermal investment will flow to Asia. Let's hope they won't ruin too much ....

'The hot spring at Chae Son National Park'. 

19th December 2011 By Scorchamac

A short uploaded video of a newish hot spring near Berastagi, North Sumatra, Indonesia. 

An extensive blog on Selayang hot spring, Malaysia. Conclusion: 
'From my point of view, it is worth paying the entry fee [less than a $US] and get to use the natural hot spring for unlimited time and volume of water (as long as you are happy)! So, do visit there and have fun!'
Vietnam News reports (13 april 2012) that medical tourism needs enhanced promotion. Their readers respond.  Le Van Nhat, Vietnamese from Hanoi: 
'Last year I had a trip to the mountainous province of Son La. I was exhausted after a quite long journey from Ha Noi. Local people recommended that I should go to a natural hot spring at the nearby village to rest and restore my energy.
I decided to go there, dreaming of a relaxing time wallowing in hot water.
But I was totally disappointed.
The water was not hot as I expected and the bathroom was dirty with cobwebs. It seemed that the bathroom had not been cleaned for years. And there was no other tourist except for me.
I do not expect significant development of medical tourism in Viet Nam if things remain unchanged'. 
The dilemma of soaking in Southeast Asia: it's seldom that wild and natural is combined with sanitary. And the expectations of locals of a soaking Disney World. Then again if vexed by cobwebs then maybe one should stay at home.

More bad experiences, this from the Philippines: 
'Today I went to Dauin Hot Spring and Beach Resort, around 2 hours away from our place in Valencia. ... When I arrived, the pool with the hotspring water wasn't filled so they had to fill it up and it took them like the whole day. .... 
The water was ground water .... 
I spent something close to P500 ($12 US) for the afternoon stay, with the "hot spring" only 2-feet deep!'The upside: 'Still, it was a luxury for me as I was able to spend time with myself'. 

A mud bath in Nanjing, China, brings some strange customs to the fore. Laura the explorer
'I don’t have many pictures because they had a strict rule about photos.  It’s curious – the Chinese are fairly modest in public, but in private it’s completely different.  The only person wearing a bikini at this place was one of the teachers, and everyone walked around wrapped in a towel.  They don’t want pictures of people in bathing suits.  However, in the change room, people let it all hang out.  I don’t know about the men’s change room, but by now I think I’ve seen more naked Chinese women than naked Canadian women'.
Shanghaiist reports (Mnarch 21) on hot spring developments in Shanghai. No protecting natural soaking sites. No less than around 75$ million will be invested to create 
'... the city's first open-air hot spring resort hotel with a 12,000-square-meter man-made hot spring pool zone'. 
Hmmm, a good development? 

Hot soaks of the Himalaya has highlighted the plight of Gasa Tsachu, Bhutan. The newest development, a road may well be on the cards. 

The outlandish?
New fashions not yet to reach the shores of Southeast Asia: singing. Saunascape reports (13 April): 
'What do a Japanese pop group and a specialized bus in Finland have in common? They’re both all for singing in the sauna!
Rocket News from Japan tells us about OFR48, a new, all-female pop group made up entirely of workers at Ofuros, or urban Japanese bath houses. The OFR in their name even stands for ofuro.
The performances started as a way to make customers feel more willing to approach the staff of the bath houses: An awkward experience because the bath customers are naked. The clothed female workers serve both the men’s and women’s sides of the spa.
The performances began in the bath houses around Tokyo. They were so well received that the group has gone on to perform at larger venues. They plan to release their first single “Our Customers are Naked” in May. Their music video for this performance follows'.

After singing, another sort of weird event from Japan. Artist Mariko Sakaguchi manages to take photo's of herself bathing, in her own mobile tub in very unconventional locations, such as in peoples lounge area with the family watching TV, in a meeting room (with employees having a meeting).
Mariko explains
'I am making art works by using photography.
I am trying to cross the sense of private and public, and also now and past by taking bath in old style Japanese bathtub and stepping into photography by myself. You can see I take bath anywhere, It means the place you are seeing my works and also the place you are at now are not off-site.
The place where you are has possibilities to be the scene of my works.
You are not spectator, but party of my work, art.
I want to be a part of art with you all'.
The amusing part is that in every picture you see Mariko bathing you actually end up asking yourself, what are the others in the picture doing?

Final note, another video, this time from Greenland:
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