Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Born Again?

This time around the updates on what's new and trendy focuses on the usual topics which seem to have evolved to be the core of these updates: local and regional news, geothermal power news, the significance of natural hot spring bathing in general and some wackier bits here and there.

Concerning the Soaking in Southeast Asia blog family, especially the European version has seen many new entries, while the Tumblr blog is going from strength to strength. 

Over here this blog saw the second interview with those passionate about  soaking, these interviews are really demanding. I'm researching now on interested persons from North America and Europe.

Sari Ater hot spring, Java by Yulia Purwanti 

[ ... ]
From the  Global Spa & Wellness Summit there was this article in Travel&Leisure Asia (May 14).
'At the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, held in India, his holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, spoke about the impact of the multi-billion dollar industry on modern day wellbeing.
His holiness kicked off the talk by whispering to his translator, "What does it mean, spa?"—a tongue-in-cheek start to his headlining role at a summit dedicated to exactly that. After a few chuckles from the crowd, he continued to explain that while the world of spas is relatively new to him, wellness is a concept he knows plenty about, setting the tone for the many parallels drawn throughout his speech.
"A happy mind, a peaceful mind, is the key factor for a healthy body," the Dalai Lama said, advocating relaxation through mental detox. "Medical scientists are actually telling me hatred, anger, fear—these emotions are eating our immune systems. Relaxing does not mean just on a yoga mat, lie down full of anger, full of fear. Relaxation means the mind is calm."
The Dalai Lama personally finds soaking in hot springs quite enjoyable. Hot springs cleanse, detox and heal the body, the mind and the psyche through minerals, tranquility and nature'.
In the transcript the Dalai Lama actually says:
'HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA: In Tibet, I never use, you see, because the hot springs...
[laughter]
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA: But in India, in Kullu, I used to visit there. I don't know how much sort of medical sort'.
Unfortunately the original article from Travel&Leisure comes up with 3 choices of hot springs / spa's which I doubt the Dalai Lama has visited. Though the person he is he will certianly give them his blessing.

The 2014 summit is in Morocco's Marrakesh. Again there is some relevance for soaking enthusiasts. Notably Charles Davidson has put a programme together to visit Morocco's hot springs post summit.

Other hallroom meetings, f.i. from the Perfect Sweat Summit by saunatimes (Mar 14):
'Presenters kept it short, packed with information and personal sentiments.  It became clear early on that the kinship of the group is making for strong, long lasting relationships that are going to be building blocks for advancing sweat practices today. ”The burgeoning wellness movement is returning to its roots, as the millennia-old sweat trend reheats up.”'
In another more recent blog entry saunatimes expands further on what was discussed.

Sneak Peeks
Something different? An onsen shinkansen (high speed train)?
'A new shinkansen named Toreiyu, with coach cars featuring big bath tubs (for foot bathing), facing the car windows, will be launched this coming June. Today I’ll give you a sneak peek at this latest bullet train'. Source
Or a beer bath? The Mailonline (Mar. 14, 2014) :
'A brewery in a castle is offering punters the chance to bathe in warm beer in their underground vaults.
At Schloss Starkenberger in Austria, seven 13-foot long pools are open for visitors to immerse themselves in warm beer.
Deep in the 700-year-old castle's cellar, artist Wernfried Poschusta modified the old fermentation rooms to hold 84,000 litres in the spa-like baths'.
Apparently not the only one diving into this trend. Beer baths have been all the rage in Czech as well. Read this personal account

Fancy a bath? This is in Singha Tatopani, Beni district, Nepal. From their website. 

Rarity
Onsen addict laments the cultural flux which means onsen bathing naturally is slowly disappearing:
'Getting back to the topic of differences in the acceptance of nudity in public hot springs: Social mores have gone through many transformations at various times. Mixed-sex bathing in the nude was common in different periods of Japanese history. It is fairly rare nowadays, though. Most hot springs have separate areas for men and women. Those hot springs that still allow men and women to mingle freely tend to be outdoor ones in remote locations, such as Tsubame Onsen.
Even with this separation of the sexes, there is now a substantial number of young Japanese who feel uncomfortable bathing naked with other people. Not too far ago in the past, the Japanese idea of a vacation meant going to a Japanese ryokan with a gorgeous hot spring in an onsen region. Nowadays, a vacation often means going abroad. Also, tiny nuclear families are the norm. The average fertility rate in 2014 for Japanese women is 1.4. Many children in the new millennium bathe alone, which is very different from the experience of previous generations. I have met a few college students who have told me that they do not enjoy bathing nude in hot springs. I have read reports of young parents insisting that their children wear swimsuits when the children go on school trips and stay in hotels with hot springs.
For now, such shyness is still a rarity. We are all born with bodies that we should not be ashamed of. Let's enjoy ourselves while behaving respectfully and tactfully with our family members, neighbors, and strangers in and around hot springs and sentos'. 
On the same subject anything notti in a recent blog entry explores the same:
'Mixed-sex communal bathing has been a common practice in Japan since hundreds of years back. However due to modernisation and western influence, “Konyokuburo” (mixed-gender public onsens) are now becoming increasing rare as Japanese social mindset changes'. 
His explanations are that the youth are more uptight while the social framework in which mixed-bathing was possible (and regulated through convension) is unravelling.

Target
Japan's first geothermal plant will start up according to Japan's Daily Press (March 17): 
'As Japan continues to look for viable alternatives to its mothballed nuclear reactors, Chuo Electric Power Co. is set to open Japan’s first new geothermal power project in 15 years'.
And though this might be the way forward, it seems that smaller installations are the next thing in Japan. Bloomberg reports (May 21):
'IHI Corp. (7013), a maker of everything from aircraft jet engines to gas turbines, expects the market for small-scale geothermal projects to take off in Japan as the country seeks cleaner sources of energy.
The Tokyo-based company has developed a 20-kilowatt generator capable of turning hot water into electricity that can be set up in as little as half a day, said Tomohiko Yamaguchi, an IHI official in charge of marketing the product.
“The government may want to push large-scale geothermal projects, but big ones are having a hard time,” Yamaguchi said in an interview on May 20. “Small ones are easier to set up. They are faster to expand.”
Smaller geothermal plants may prove popular in Japan because their scale makes them more manageable for operators, offering a quicker way to build out the island nation’s rich sources of heat below the earth’s surface.
The market to utilize heat from hot springs “is becoming active, helped by the government’s focus on clean energy,” Yamaguchi said.
Since IHI’s “Heat Recovery” generation device went on sale in August, the company has received orders for more than 10 units for hot springs and industrial sites, Yamaguchi said.
IHI was developing the system initially targeting waste water from factories, according to the official. Once the device was ready, half of all inquiries were related to hot springs.
“We realized the use at hot springs has potential,” Yamaguchi said'.

Makban geothermal plant (Luzon) has an extensive piping system which runs through the local community. Thinkgeoenergy (March 23) believes this warrants a flickr photo set.

Paying Homage 
  • China
China hopes to see stars being handed out to respective hot springs, starting with Chongqing. So reports (Mar. 26) Chongqingreports (!):
'Guided by Chongqing Tourist Administration and relevant associations, Chongqing hot spring tourism industry is considering industrial standards and will be the first to kick off the star level evaluation work in China, according to the Second China Spa Tourist Expo'.
The Sheraton in Huzhou has opened up it's Mystic Spa and Hot Spring village. There's surprisingly little information on what claims to be the largest natural hot spring resort in China. Simplyfabulicious adds (April 22):
'You will need time to really soak in this place – pun fully intended – with its 101 hot spring pools, 39 private guest villas, 8 spa chalets for private treatments, 21 treatment rooms and a health food restaurant spread across 20,000 sqm. Massive. All this is located adjacent to the hotel which links directly to the spa’s private changing rooms via a discreet underground passage. Like the sound of it yet?
The main section of the spa village is the glass dome pool complex with 26 hot spring pools of varying sizes and privacy, overlooking the Resort’s private lake. Cascading waterfalls, flora and fauna and steamy surrounds give it a tropical jungle feel. Further away from the main pool are smaller hot spring pools dotted along different levels, accessed via winding pathways. Look out for the decadent red wine spa pool where you get to soak in gallons of red wine – for its antioxidant properties. (I won’t drink it if I were you, though.)'
China mentions that the next hot spring capital is to be Xiamen, according to whatsonXiamen (March 7). 
'Starting last year, Xiamen has been striving to build its high-end hot spring resorts integrating the functions of leisure, recreation and physiotherapy by upgrading its major popular hot spring resorts including Riyuegu Hot Spring Resort and Trithorn Hot Spring Resort'. Hot springs are expected to be another claim to fame for Xiamen, and are sure to drive a new round of growth for the city's tourism industry, according to an industry spokesperson'.
Thinkgeoenergy adds 
'Cities with geothermal hot springs install geothermal bath facilities and are becoming more and more proud of it. So it is not surprising that efforts to become “China’s Hot Springs Capital” is an important element in branding cities to attract visitors.
...
While the focus seems to be mostly on tourism and a drive to grow it, geothermal heating for the inhabitants might also be an option going forward, particularly as the spa tourism is seasonal with peaks and lows throughout the year'.
  • Indonesia
The Sydney Morning Herald (March 1) claims Ubud, Bali is the world's spa capital. Though not necessarily fed by hot springs, the Ubud spa's do all they can to replicate the experience. 
The article itself features on what could a sumuun of indulgence the COMO Shambala Estate. It's website advertise it's waters: 
'For our hydrotherapy in Bali, we use water from The Source, the sacred spring on the Estate revered by locals for its healing properties. This feeds the heated Vitality Pool, the chlorine-free, mineral rich and alkaline water making for a deeply therapeutic experience ...'.
Well the following from Flores would also do ...

'Natural hotpool in the ricefields of #Moni 40degrees! Haven't developed any weird tropical diseases yet... :) #nature #hotpool #hotspring #Flores #Indonesia #travel'
  • Malaysia
The Malaysian Times reports (Feb. 14):
'The Tawau Hot Spring Park is fast becoming one of Sabah’s tourist attractions.
...
Rekobumi Sdn Bhd, the company that recognised the potential of the hot springs and the importance of preserving it, has been maintaining and upgrading the hot springs since three years ago.
It turned the segregated pools of hot water into a pleasantly landscaped park that could help lure more visitors.
The company director Datuk Soon Ten Fook told Bernama that the efforts to develop the hot spring park and its surroundings was in line with the current needs.
“There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to make the park a competitive tourist destination that fulfilled tourist needs while focusing on the safety aspects,” he said. Among the future plans for the park is to incorporate a mini zoo that features exotic animals'. 
Hmmm ...

Annah Rais hot spring, Sarawak, Malaysia (source)

Another hot spring seeing more visitors is that of Panchor, Sarawak. The Borneo Post (April 11):
'Natural Resources and Environment Deputy Minister Datuk Sri Dr James Dawos said about 2,500 people visited the hot spring every month last year and the number could be more now.
He said the Panchor Hot Spring, which was upgraded by the Tourism Ministry last year at a cost of about RM500,000, is currently managed by the village security and development committee.
“I was told by the committee chairman last year that they can easily collect RM10,000 in entrance fee a month, which means about 2,500 people visited the hot spring a month. Now, the number of visitors going there could be more as electricity has been connected to the facilities'.
  • Philippines
Looneyplanet visits Baslay hot spring on Negros (Mar. 30):
'... there's an abandoned hot spring resort with water temperature rising between 38 to 40 degrees. Some locals have no idea where it is. The signage doesn't help either (what is left of it from the national highway is just the metal frame). The way is rough and dusty with patches of concrete road in between. Getting there is already half of the adventure.
After wading through the lukewarm river, the abandoned facilities beckon. The moss has thickened and rust seems to take over.
I was here a year ago. Nothing has changed. Still abandoned. No other people in sight.
Pay homage to nature! #skinnydipping'.
Ferdz Decena visits the Palan-ah waterfalls and the adjacent hot spring near Tulgao village, Northern Luzon. looks like an idyllic place.


The Business Monitor (Feb. 23) mentions that fish-farming may profit from geothermal power generation:
'AQUACULTURE farms in Mindoro will be able to grow tons of triple high-quality tilapia, sea bass and shrimps per year, in a nutrient-rich, controlled temperature using water from geothermal power plants'.
The idea is to use the geothermal waste water to warm fish ponds with some water to be used as source water. 

A nice blog entry by Jeffer on a hot spring worth visiting, Aatungan - Tinglayan, Kalinga, Luzon. Easily to combine with a waterfall visit.
  • Singapore
Another photo blog on Sembawang, this time by Sakuraharuka. He comes prepared, complete with ph testing kit. 
'The hot spring water is slightly alkaline {due to the presence of minerals} and its sulphide content is three times that of tap water'.
  • Vietnam
Some hope for the anti-developers. Vietnam News (May 5) reports:
'Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has ordered the People's Committee of northern Phu Tho Province to stop construction of an ecotourism site that brings hot mineral water for tourists'.
It was of course a Vietnamese style eco-tourism site.
'The ecotourism site, which is located near the Thanh Thuy Hot Spring, was a key project to encourage the growth of the tourism sector in the province. Last month, it ended its first period of construction with an investment of VND450 billion (US$21.4 million). Further, the project is likely to receive an additional capital investment of VND200 billion ($9.5 million) to continue its second period of construction.
...
Currently, nine enterprises have leased land to exploit the hot mineral water for their tourism services, within an area of 218 hectares.
Also, hundreds of households in the province have used the hot water for their daily use and businesses.
However, few have received licences to take advantage of the hot water source.
An inspection of the department last month showed that among seven enterprises that are operating their tourism services in the province, only one received permission from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment'.
And then finally a little exposed part of the soaking world. Abu Dhabi's The National has a small photo expose on hot springs in Yemen:


'The Damt thermal bath is famous for the healing effects of its hot spring water'.

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