Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Light bulbs


 Who doesn't emoji️ #hotsprings ? #dieng #java #indonesia #travel #nikon #nofilter #latergram
(source

Fine Line 
In the most recent posting on this blog, I presented a possible definition of a soaker:
Soaker: a person who enjoys and values (possibly through  maintaining the vicinity, but with reference to traditions and history) hot naturally occurring liquid which mostly is publicly accessibly / free of charge with a preference for natural bathing habits.
Though this may be the global definition, would it stand for Southeast Asia? 
If we exclude the most popular soaks of Southeast Asia, which tend to be micro Disneyworlds with little regard to soaking, soakers in Southeast Asia are mostly driven by potential health benefits. There are always entry fees to contend with, albeit mostly nominal. Dining is a quintessential part of the experience. Natural bathing habits are out (and with it hygiene!), though socialising is in ...
So a Southeast Asian soaker definition could be:
A person who enjoys and values the therapeutic qualities of hot naturally occurring liquid which is affordable and includes dining opportunities for the (extended) family / friends. 

Not so standard news
Probably the most striking bit of news the past two months concerning wellness came from Germany. What makes it more mind-boggling is how it has been disregarded by the mainstream news channels.
Bad PR for the wellness branch:
'In fast zwei Drittel der Pools von Wellnesshotels entspricht die Wasserqualität nicht den Hygienevorschriften'. 
So two-thirds of the (swimming) pools of wellness hotels fail hygiene rules. The results were taken from hotels in Germany and Austria and make poor reading. In general outdoor facilities were cleaner and using the facilities around lunch time was the advice, later and earlier gave worse results ...
If in Germany this was the result, one can only imagine how poor such facilities are in general as regards to hygiene ...
'A man was hospitalized after jumping into a hot spring on the northern Nevada desert to rescue a dog'. (source). 
No word on the condition of either jumper or dog.

Looking for a different soaking connection: mountain biking and hot springs.
'The Hot Springs Route is a brand new mountain biking route, the brainchild of Casey Greene, an avid rider and a cartographer for Adventure Cycling in Missoula, Mont. Casey came up with the idea after doing a 10-day bike tour across North Idaho and Montana when he and some friends biked to a different fire lookout tower every night. "At the end of the tour, I thought this whole concept of having a destination where you end up each night was kind of cool ... basically, destination mountain biking," Casey said.
The light bulb for the hot springs route went off when he was soaking at a hot springs in Pole Bridge, Mont. He was thinking that Idaho had the highest concentration of hot springs in North America, so why not try to connect the dots? He started evaluating the situation from looking at maps, plotting the hot springs, looking at connecting routes, and came up with a tentative route. Then he ground-proofed them to see if it would work. Last summer, he rode the whole route that's connected by dirt roads, all 517 miles of it, and he also logged a number of singletrack routes that add spice to the whole experience'.
What happens when you crash a drone in a hot spring? RT (Sep. 23) notes that:
'The German tourist who crashed a camera-equipped drone into a lake in Yellowstone National Park in July has agreed to a plea deal that would ban him from the park for one year, as well as unsupervised probation in his home country [yeah, right]'.  
But then 2 days later Reuters reports (Sep. 25):
'A Dutch tourist has been ordered to pay penalites of more than $3,000 for crashing a drone aircraft into a famous hot spring at Yellowstone National Park, a park spokesman said on Thursday'.
So how come the difference in sentencing?
 
Uncertainty about a Japanese onsen experience? Japan Realm has a guide (Sep. 24) on how to get naked with strangers. Apparently for normal non-Japanese this is a possible situation of pure terror. Embrace it, is the main advice ... 

A hot tub gondola? Yes, in Japan (source).

We've heard about the declining bathing culture in Japan (mostly non-hot spring sourced). So what to do with bath houses having been closed? Rocketnews24 (Oct. 2): 
'Japan has been going through something of a hot spring renaissance over the past decade, but at the same time, things are tough for Japan’s other traditional venues for communal bathing, sento, or public bathhouses. Despite a recent uptick in their number of foreign customers, most Japanese have a pretty lukewarm reaction to the prospect of taking a soak with others if the water isn’t heated by geothermal sources.
For the current generation, a hot bath drawn from the tap is no longer a luxury nor something that necessitates leaving home for, and so sento have been shutting down around the country. But rather than close their doors for good, a few have converted their bathing facilities into dining spaces and been reborn as stylishly retro sento cafes'.
Complete with 5 examples.

Onsenaddict (Oct.) has a top 5 of the best cascading hot spring massages.

Foreign Affairs need not always lead to a panacea for hot spring development. The NZ Herald (Oct. 27): 
'A master plan to turn the picturesque Waiwera thermal resort into an international destination with jobs and other economic benefits became bogged down in red tape'. 
That seems to be the case, but there were quite a few question marks concerning the investor which drew out the process. Money doesn't always pave the way.

Geothermal
A very good read. From thinkgeoenergy (Oct. 8) Alexander Richter let's us know how he started up the website and how he hopes to continue doing so. A very genuine article and thought provoking.

The Economist has a very upbeat article (Oct. 26) on geothermal energy in the USA. Despite being one of the cheapest means of power generation, subsidies to let this sector mature have been lagging. No word on double use (power & soaking) of generated steam though.

From Bandung.bisnis (Sep. 20) an article about developing the geothermal power development of Kamojang near Bandung (Java, Indonesia). At the same time they hope to develop the tourism potential. Thinkgeoenergy was a recent visit here (Oct. 27), no news of the tourism potential though.

Hotspring waterfall in #mountrinjani #lombok #indonesia #hotspring #waterfall
(source)

Not top notch
  • Indonesia
A great posting on Sumatra's answer to Turkey's Pamukkale (tripzilla, 22 Sept.):
'At a glance, Kawah Putih Tinggi Raja resembles the natural rock pools of Pamukkale, Turkey. “Kawah Putih” literally translates to “white crater” in Indonesian, and it is one of North Sumatra’s best kept secrets. Found in the village of Tinggi Raja in the Simalungun province, Kawah Putih is a natural hot spring that has hardened to form white terraces rich in calcium carbonate deposits.
It takes about 4 hours to drive from Medan to reach these “warm snow” terraces. Bear in mind that this location is not a typical tourist hotspot with top-notch facilities. It’s completely off the beaten path and the road leading to it is paved with huge uneven stones. If you don’t mind a super bumpy car ride, hiring a four-wheel drive is the way to go'. 
Unfortunately the springs are too hot to soak in, it's more a place for sightseeing ...

It's all Sumatra btw, in this update. Yahoo Singapore notes (Aug. 14) that Sumatra's capital Medan is highly underrated. One of the 16 reasons to visit:
'To soak off all that travel fatigue, I highly recommend a soak in one of the hot springs at the foot of Mount Sibayak. The warm sulphur water can relieve rheumatism and help you de-stress. The smell of bad eggs and the entrance fee of S$0.30 is a small price to pay for a spa experience surrounded by nature'.
Photo:

They do fail to tell prospective tourists that due to an eruption of the Sinabung volcano the area is covered in ash ...


Lonely Planet on Flores (Oct. 8): 
'Like a fiery dragon snaking out of the Komodo Sea, Flores boasts a sinuous highland landscape that is spiked with no less than fourteen active volcanoes (only Java and Sumatra have more). This is the heart of the ring of fire and volcanic activity is visible everywhere from the black sand beaches to the smouldering mountain peaks. Near the village of Moni, there is a pair of sacred thermal springs, one reserved as a bathing area for men, the other for women. After work the entire village frequently gather to bathe in the gigantic hot-tubs and chat happily about the pleasures of highland life'.
Not really natural, but the Australian Traveller names six of Ubud, Bali's best spa retreats.
  • Malaysia
An overview of 10 hot springs in Malaysia.

Another extensive photo review (Sep. 23) of Banjaran hot springs. So many photo's. But no people, let alone no soakers?

  • Philippines
Oi pre?! Nakayakap kaba skin? Wahahah @hi5ange emojiemojiemoji ayysoosss nmn! @simplyarmie @nvrheard emojiemoji @ #mtIsarogHotspring #hotspring #tripniprince #galaniprince #bicolandia #bicoliscool
'Just two hours away from the hustle and bustle of Iloilo City, the unassuming town of Anini-y offers a much-needed respite to weary travelers.  Rugged and bountiful, this 4th class municipality in Antique Province is home to some tourist attractions worth a visit'. 
And what are then the attractions? Yahoo Philippines (Oct. 5): 
'Siraan Hot Spring is a local favorite. Here, one can take a refreshing dip at any of the hot springs enclosed in bathtubs and pools. A mossy swimming pool with sulfuric water is the key feature of Siraan. The water flowing here is believed to be therapeutic; it is said to cure skin diseases like fungal infections and eczema as well as soothe muscle and body aches'.
  • Singapore

Experiencing an onsen. In Singapore. The concept of onsen bathing is slowly being introduced to the city elites of Southeast Asia. Albeit without the natural surroundings. And even the natural waters. Just the concept. The Evacomics has a blog entry (Sep. 23) on the experience of the Ikeda Spa in Singapore. Score: very impressed.
  • Thailand
#squaready #タイ#パーイ#温泉#hotspring#GoPro#GoPro#GoPro#水が茶色い 三ヶ月ぶりくらいにお湯浸かりました。のぼせた。
(Pai, source

Just out of our geographical scope, but a nice read nonetheless, how to soak in Taiwan. Ligeia describes (Sep. 7) her experiences at the Long Nai Tang Hot Springs:
'Wanting to include a hot springs experience in my day trip to Taipei’s Beitou district, I looked up places online and found an vast array of choices. Long Nai Tang Hot Springs seemed the most appealing as it was the oldest, dating back to 1896, and it had no website of its own. I only found it because a blogger had visited and wrote about his experience there using words like “local” and “authentic”. So, of course, I had to give it a try.
It is not the easiest place to find unless you can read Chinese. But the concierge at a hotel (that turned out to be right next door) pointed me in the right direction.
I was greeted by the most efficient older Chinese man, who responded to my “Ni hao” with “naked”. Clearly waiting for a response, I said, “naked is ok”. “Towel”, he continues. “I have my own towel”, I said pointing to my bag. “One hundred”, he replied holding out his hand. I paid the money and he said, “shoes” and pointed me towards the women’s section'.
Thus becomes easy communication. 

'Mateo Hot and Cold spring'
Sorsogan, Bicol, Philippines (Source)

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