Saturday, 18 March 2017

Freefalling

didian9_ at Curug Cilengkrang (Java):
Hot spring
Habis seharian dikerjain sama mobil, malemnya camping cantik diiringi irama biola pengantar tidur, besoknya gagal liat sunrise gara gara mendung yang akhirnya ngopi di jembatan bambu dan siangnya berendam di kolam air panas yang didepanyanya ada kolam air hangat terus di belakangnya ada air terjun air dingin, di depan kolam ada sungai aliran air terjun... Bayangin dulu lah kombinasinya.. kebayang gak tuh #apasih
Well, yang paling berharga adalah ilmu baru dari orang-orang baru...
#longjourney #exhausted #experience #hotspring #visitindonesia
In contrast to the above, let's look at some detail to a very interesting article from Japan on it's own soaking culture. It looks into what could possible be the imminent demise of traditional mixed gender bathing in Japan.

Where elsewhere in the globe bathing habits are slowly appreciating the likelihood for bathing and recreating naked, trends in Japan seem to be in the opposite direction. The Japan Times (Dec. 10):
'The problems seen in Shiobara fit in with a wider trend that has seen a precipitous decline in the number of konyoku around Japan. In 2013, the inaugural issue of Onsen Hihyo (Hot-spring Critique) dedicated its cover feature to the plight of mixed bathing.
“Nobody else was writing about it,” says the magazine’s editor, Takashi Ninomiya. “I had a feeling that they weren’t as many konyoku as before, but when I actually looked at the figures, there had been a massive drop.”
There are no official statistics on the number of mixed baths in Japan, so Ninomiya turned to Keita Oguro, a veteran onsen photographer with an encyclopedic knowledge of konyoku. When Oguro first totted up all such onsen 23 years ago, the total came to more than 1,200. By 2013, that figure had fallen to less than 700.
...
“This is really unusual, isn’t it? They’re in total free fall, but hardly anyone is standing up and saying, ‘This is weird,’ or, ‘I want to do something to stop this.'”
However, when you’re talking about a fragile social accord that permits men and women to bathe naked in the company of strangers, it’s hard to know where to start.
...
Mayumi Yamazaki, a prolific essayist who has penned multiple books about onsen culture, including 2008’s “Dakara Konyoku O Yamerarenai” (“That’s Why I Can’t Get Enough of Mixed Bathing”), says that people in hot-spring regions would share a single bath as a matter of course: they bathed wherever the spring was.
...
Ninomiya explains that such hot springs are unable to perform large-scale modifications, such as relocating a bath. And if they stop allowing mixed bathing, however briefly, there’s no going back.
“It’s not something that’s happened suddenly — there has been a gradual shift,” confirms Yamazaki. “However, the rules have definitely become stricter in recent years.”
...
While there are multiple books on the subject, the most comprehensive online guide to konyoku onsen was compiled by a former flight attendant who uses the moniker “Mixed Bath Journalist Mina.” Succhi no Konyoku Rotenburo Taikenki (Stewardess’s Outdoor Mixed Bath Diaries; www.food-travel.jp) has exhaustive photo reports on nearly 500 onsen, each of them rated for overall satisfaction and how potentially embarrassing they are for female bathers.
...
Tucked away on the site is a page listing places that have disappeared since she started out. There are more than 160, and while many have closed for business, a significant number have simply taken konyoku off the menu. Some have divided their existing baths between men and women, introduced a rotation system or converted their facilities into private family baths (kashikiri). In a few unfortunate cases, a single konyoku bath has been split in two.
“I worry that genuine konyoku may disappear altogether,” Mina says.
Yet she’s clear about where the problem lies.
“The main issue,” she says, “is bad manners amongst bathers.”
...
The main reason that mixed baths have endured for so long in the face of official opprobrium is that communities have still supported them. When an onsen stops being a gathering place for locals, there’s less to stop it slipping into disrepute.
...
Ninomiya laments the growing atomization of Japanese society, even in rural areas that until recently were bulwarks of mixed bathing. He describes how it would once be common for agrarian workers to finish a day’s labor by piling into the tub together, irrespective of gender.
“There’s an amazing sense of community when you decide it’s OK to get naked and hang out together, rather than just being ‘Me, me, me’ all the time,'” he says. “I think it’s one been of the good qualities of Japanese people and I’m sad to see it dying out. Those kinds of places are going to disappear. We’re turning increasingly into a world of ‘I’ll do my thing, you do yours.'”
...
“Being able to take a bath, naked, with a bunch of strangers would be unthinkable in a world that wasn’t peaceful,” she says. “The number (of konyoku baths) may keep decreasing, but I think this culture is going to survive.”
Ninomiya, however, is less convinced.
“I think I’d like to do another feature on the subject for Onsen Hihyo,” he says. “But the title next time wouldn’t be, ‘Are konyoku onsen in trouble?’ It would be something more like ‘Farewell, mixed bathing.'”
How to reverse this trend? Is it possible? It is though very unfortunate if this trend is not upheld.

In this it's interesting to see that incoming tourists from Southeast Asia see some  curiosity in soaking and acceptance in that in Rome one does as a Roman would do.
From the Philippines (Manilla Bulletin, Feb. 26):
'To cap off a long day on the road, nothing could be better than to go skinny-dipping outdoors in an onsen or hot spring pool in the dead of winter before retiring in your traditional ryokan hotel room with wall-to-wall tatami mats and a comfy futon bed. Now, don’t let dirty thoughts as well as your misplaced fear of exposing your naked bodies to members of the opposite sex get the better of you. Although a private onsen is a communal experience, decent ryokan hotels in Japan like the Aishinkan in Tsunagi and Hotel Jodogahama in Miyako have separate onsen facilities for men and women'.
taveeruechanok at Tsurunoyu:
 วันนี้มาออนเซนน้ำนม~💦🍼
Singapores' Strait Times (Feb 12) has a travel article on a journey to Kagoshima, Japan.
'... we walk back to the bathhouse for the next stop: the good old-fashioned onsen experience.
This is where it can get a little tricky. There are separate baths for men and women, but every one has to strip naked as custom dictates.
I have never shared a bath in my birthday suit with so many strangers - any stranger, in fact.
But seeing as nobody bats an eyelid, I quickly feel at ease, even liberated'.
Then Thailand's The Nation (Feb. 15) notes how the bullet train arrival in northern Japan's Hokkaido island whets potential Thai tourists appetites. The island's main attractions: hot springs ...

Further afield, the Brits (Daily Telegraph, Feb. 13) are also in on the act: 
'Take the plunge into one of Japan's best onsens'
An expansive introductionary article on Japan's hot springs.
'Onsen baths are taken at any time of day (or night), after washing and always naked (but for the optional flannel). For visitors to Japan, they are not only a pleasurable experience but a great way to get beneath – or at least down to – the skin of this fascinating, inscrutable country.  
With 2,300 known onsen across the nation, Japan offers a multitude of places in which to soak up the local ambience, from the deep south to the wilds of northern Hokkaido. Here is a selection of my favourites'.
Happy 
 tildaaagc at Marobo
Such an amazing but extremely hot place 🇹🇱💕 #hotsprings #timorleste
More onsen news.
How to grab attention? Rocketnews24 (Feb 13):
'As Japan gears up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, local and prefectural governments are working hard to find ways to accommodate foreign tourists and help overcome language barriers at establishments like restaurants and onsen hot springs around the country.
Iwate Prefecture in the northern Tohoku region has been implementing a plan to welcome foreign travellers to the area since April last year, with a set of pictograms for local businesses to download and use on their premises. Titled “Ten Ways to Make Travellers Happy”, this collection of black-and-white icons is designed to catch the eye of tourists with fun graphics, which include an image of a naked samurai with a topknot.
...

Unlike the controversial onsen hot spring mark and the traditional temple pictogram, these icons are a lot easier to understand universally so let’s hope they don’t run into any problems!'
More onsen curiosa, an article from Australia: why not copy the onsen experience at home? Traveller.com.au's (Jan. 19) author visits a non-named so-called Japanese onsen, probably in Melbourne's sweltering summer:
'I'd hoped to recreate the Japanese bathhouse experience, even on this warm Melbourne day. And yet, I'm now questioning whether that was really a good idea. Everything about this bathhouse looks right, but it doesn't feel right. It's lost some of the magic, some of the adventure, some of the exoticism'.
What's wrong? It
'... feels uncomfortable and even slightly creepy over here in Australia'.
Odd. I mean I understand that feeling, but what the author describes as quintessential Australian is in fact nothing more than connecting with friends or nature. The onsen experience could be likewise, it often is. In Japan. 
But without the cultural context in the center of a busy city, in as stated the sunny summer, it might be wrong. Maybe on a cooler day, or nighttime. Author's closing remarks:
'... sometimes it's better to just enjoy and appreciate what you have'.
Problems
at Penebel, Bali, Indonesia
 #relaxing#hotspring#inpeacwithnature👌
Moving on. Soaking naturally (well with natural waters for a starter) should assist in the idea of using communal waters for bathing and recreational purposes. A recent study (so reports BBC, Mar. 2) reveals all is not well in public pools:
'Canadian researchers have figured out a way to test just how much urine can be found in a swimming pool.
The results? In some cases, about 0.01% of pool water is urine.
It is a small amount but likely more than enough for most swimmers - and enough to be a public health concern.
...
The University of Alberta researchers analysed more than 250 samples from 31 pools and hot tubs. The samples were collected in two undisclosed Canadian cities, from public and private pools, hotels, and hot tubs.
...
When mixed with chlorine in a pool or hot tub, urine can contribute to the formation of so-called "disinfection by-products" in pool water that can be harmful to a swimmer's health.
Those compounds. specifically one called trichloramine, can potentially cause eye irritation, respiratory problems, and has been linked to occupational asthma for people who spend hours in pools, like pool workers and professional swimmers.
...
Urine is not the only factor in the formation of those disinfection by-products - sweat, body lotions and hair care products contribute to the problem as well.
The Edmonton-based researchers suggested that a public health campaign focusing on pool hygiene, like taking a quick shower before jumping in the pool, might help reduce exposure to those disinfection by-products'.
I like swimming a lot. Unfortunately winter months mean a swim in our local pool. I found out some time ago that I'm allergic to chlorine, no wonder natural waters swim nicer
My advice is to shower prolonged before and after swimming; before to saturate your skin, afterwards to rinse all the swim water off.
With the above findings it's odd that there's no more widespread use of say Iceland's precautions or Japan's bathing habits. What will be the future? Culture as it is, sees less and less need for hygiene for oneself but also deplores the lack of hygiene of others. Everybody has their own swim machine at home?

Finally, a slightly lighthearted feature from China which sees tradition  as opposed to a sanitised future. Nextshark (Feb. 9) asks what's with the Granddads soaking naked?

'A wall that previously provided some modesty for a hot spring bath in Wentang District in Chongqing got destroyed after a flood knocked it down. However, even with the lack of privacy, it didn’t stop several patrons from doing their usual business.
...
These old uncles and grandpas from China were certainly not shy about their public display of nudity, as can be seen in the photos that circulated on the internet. No matter how chilly the weather is, they’ll still jump into a hot spring to go skinny-dipping'.
On Order
kaminkretys on how soaking takes place in Burma
 #hotsprings #Hsipaw #Myanmar #fun #adventure #travel #nomad
Cambodia? Khmer Times (Feb. 23) reports on the nation's only hot spring and don't be surprised plans to develop it:
'The Ministry of Tourism is preparing to develop a hot spring area in Kampong Speu province to attract more local and international tourists. 
...
Tourism Minister Thong Khon ordered development of the area into a special attraction for the country and for the province. 
... 
“The hot spring area is a rare tourist attraction and has features that can attract international tourists from neighboring countries to visit the area,” he said. “After an inspection and study, an expert group from Japan found the hot spring of good quality for the treatment of various diseases and for skin care and beauty.” 
... 
Ho Vandy, the secretary-general of the Cambodia National Tourism Alliance, welcomed the hot spring idea, saying that if the ministry is taking serious action by cooperating with the private sector for its development, it will be good for the area. “The hot spring development will attract more tourists, both local and international, and generate more income for local people and as well as the private sector,” Mr. Vandy said. “It can reduce poverty in the area. “We should maintain some parts of the original area of hot spring for tourists to see. “However, some parts of it have to be renovated like in other countries because the hot spring in Kampong Speu is so hot we have to  cool it down for tourists to soak in,” he said. 
... 
Hot springs are rare in Cambodia. Te Teuk Pus is 100 meters in diameter. The surface of the water, which comes from six sources and smells like sulfur, is 80 square meters. The water temperature is 70C, according to the ministry'.
antaurpe at Yeh Panes, Bali:
Thank you, spirit.
#bali #bliss #hotsprings #infinitesourceyoga #spiritled #trust #yogini #healing #yoga #pixiedust #mermaid #sacred #sulphursprings
Indonesia's geothermal exploitation seems to be all systems go. Thinkgeoenergy notes (Mar. 9):
'Today, the Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Forests (KLHK) has given a “green light” to uses of geothermal energy or geothermal for new renewable energy (EBT) in conservation area in “order to support energy security and sovereignty of energy and to help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases ( GRK).”, as reported by Antara News'.
Whether or not this is a good measure remains to be seen. But considering already how poor legislative enforcement is in Indonesia, one would have some doubts. Or many.

The controversy surrounding conservation and geothermal development in this republic is witnessed in upcoming elections. Mongabay (Mar. 11):
'The governor-elect of Aceh province said he would revoke a proposal to drill for geothermal energy and build a power plant in the heart of Sumatra’s largest intact rainforest, a victory for environmental and indigenous rights advocates who are struggling to secure the broader landscape’s protected status'.
Simmer
Between the well visited cities of #luangprabang and #vangvieng there is a secret spot only known by cyclists and motorbike travelers. The hot springs just 20km north of kasi. We stoped for lunch and fell in love with the scenery, so we decided to spend the night. Swimming at night in hot water with the brightest stars above you. Can anything top this? #laos #hotsprings #motorcyclediaries #secretspot #slowtravel #offthebeatenpath #morethantravel_mtt 🇱🇦🏍✨⛰

The Laotian Times (Feb. 23) has a short write up on the province of Huaphan's hot springs: 
'The hot springs of Hiem hold the title of being the hottest springs in the country, with a water temperature reaching as high as 100 degrees Celsius. The temperature of the spring is so heated in that a common activity for eco-tourists is egg boiling (or simmering). In addition to indulging in a natural Jacuzzi session (and a protein boost), visitors of the hot spring can enjoy the various delicious cuisines of Huaphan and enjoy cozy, forest picnics!'
Paul Eshoo visits Muang La hot spring resort (Oudomxai) and has some pointers (Jan. 27) such as :
  • The hot spring has been left open to the local public for bathing. This is a very nice community-oriented touch, as it is quite often the case with such resorts that locals are kept out. For the guests, there are private elevated tubs in addition to the public spring, which are filled every night and lit by candlelight in a very romantic setting overlooking the trees and river below. 
  • The food is quite the highlight, with special attention made to using local ingredients, colors and presentation. My favorite was the sorbet made with organic dragon fruit. The chefs are local women from the village and ensure that all dishes have an authentic flavor. 
  • The staff are all local except for one foreign intern who helps with welcoming and coordinating groups. Local staff are able to manage most everything with very little backup from the managers—a key element for any remote, community-oriented lodge.
Tipped
hot spring recovery -- 11.15.2016 #selayang #hotspring #recovery #KL #malaysia
The Guardian (Jan. 17) has an article of Malaysia's travel highlights. 
'Winning tip: Hot springs, Sabah 
Kundasang is a beautiful mountain town in Sabah. I stayed at the Kinabalu Pine Resort, which has a great view of the 4,000-metre Mount Kinabalu. A lovely excursion is to Poring Hot Spring, an hour’s drive away in Ranau. It has many shaded bath tubs but my favourites were the pools with different depths, starting from half a metre with the deepest being about seven metres'.

Hot springs today in the hills of Pamplona Phillipines...
🌴💆💏🐊

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Lock up
The Strait Times (Feb. 28) has an article on the future of the island's hot spring, Sembawang. Jammed between Singapore suburbia and a military camp, the hot spring site has seen little recent development, though by no means is the site poorly managed In a pursuit of better and best, the site has now been earmarked for more development.
'There were mixed reactions from visitors to Sembawang Hot Spring when told that the area will be turned into a park as soon as next year.
Some people who have been visiting it for years were cold to the prospect and expressed dismay, while others were warm to the idea of redeveloping the area, which sits in a military camp'.
Though it doesn't exactly mention what the development will be, change vexes crrent uusers:
'But people like Mr Gui Kim Toon, 74, who see the benefits of development, disagree.
"It would be nice if we had some shelter to protect us from the sun and rain," said Mr Gui, who visits it two to three times a week. "It can also get very messy now - sometimes people wash their clothes here and hang them up to dry. Regular visitors even padlock their buckets - or in one case, a metal bathtub - to the chain link fence enclosing the spring'.
ออนเซนเมืองไทย
#hotspring #onsen #spa
#kanchanaburi #thailand
Finishing off this blog entry a photo from north Vietnam's Serena hot spring resort also known as Kim boi hot spring.


 8 am 🌿
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#onsen #morning #japanesestyle #hotspring #bath #private #nature #green #outdoors #familytime #trip #holiday #vscocam #hkig #vscovietnam #landscape

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