Sunday, 17 July 2016

No secrets

#naturalhotspring #hotsprings #indonesia
I would like to apologise for the lack of expanded updates on this blog, limited time being one factor. But the other is the discontinuation of the google search of blogs which means many firsthand accounts are disappearing forever.
Sign of the times? 
We seem more intent to throw our photo's on instagram rather than to be able to write a sentence or two on how an experience was. Certainly looks like the internet era has heralded a dumbing down.

T
alking about dumb, debate in the US is very much on hot springs conservation and access to nature. It's mostly a response to misuse of recreative and natural wonder sites. Apparently it is the era of the throw away consumption. No individual responsibility.

For instance take this local report (Telluride News, March 31) on a clean up: 
'Hidden just down an embankment off of Colorado Highway 145, the Rico Hot Springs used to be one of the best kept secrets in the area.
Now that residents and visitors alike have discovered the warm, soothing, mineral-rich waters of the spot just north of the town of Rico, the hot springs have become more popular. With that popularity have come problems. Recently, the area around the springs has become littered with trash, discarded clothing and other items left behind by soakers.
...
Wearing gloves, they collected whiskey bottles, beer cans, water jugs, undergarments, bathing suits, food containers and innumerable cigarette butts'.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there is the heavy handedness of the authorities (Idahostatesman, Jun. 21):
'The Bureau of Land Management’s Tate Fischer said he’ll consider proposals to keep the Skinny Dipper hot pools open right up until the time his staff starts tearing them out and reclaiming the trail leading to them.
But for now, the hot springs are officially closed. Fischer announced the closure Tuesday after a notice was published in the Federal Register, a government journal that publishes federal decisions.
Let's hope that society comes to it's wits before more damage is done.

Dumbing down
Everybody knows I like to discuss geothermal power generation in relation to soaking: not often a successful combination as the tech-ies developing their power generation see no need for soaking nor for any community involvement whatsoever; the latter sits well with the governmental elite: centralising political power.


Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/environment/article85008347.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/environment/article85008347.html#storylink=cpy
Indonesia's Aceh is another region hoping to hop on the geothermal power bandwagon. ThinkGeoEnergy (May 9):
'The ongoing electricity crisis, with not sufficient electricity available is a big concern in the semi-autonomous province of Aceh on the northwest tip of Sumatra Island in Indonesia.
The regional executive board council now urges the government to implement a geothermal project to serve as key element in helping it to deal with the crisis'.
Geothermal power generation can also go small scale. ThinkGeoEnergy (May 24): 
'MiniGeo is a small, modular geothermal power plant the size of a shipping container. The system is designed to generate renewable electricity for remote communities using the earth’s natural heat. The benefits of the MiniGeo are that it can generate power 24 hours a day, doesn’t require fuel, emits almost no CO2 and needs very little space'. 
First pilot programme to be in Indonesia.

Seeking to convert the soaking faithful in Japan, Japan Times (Jun. 20) notes this new instrument to allay fears for onsen operator: 
'Developers of geothermal power projects can now buy an insurance policy that covers the expense for surveys to determine if their projects are the cause of changes in the quality and volume of hot water'.
A day later the same source continues
'With centuries of tradition on their side, Japan’s hordes of naked bathers remain unmoved by the island nation’s bid to tap a rich reserve of power equivalent to about 20 nuclear reactors. 
...
“We strongly oppose geothermal development,” said Toru Terada, the senior managing director of the Japan Spa Association, which represents 1,200 members. “Geothermal plants can lower the temperature of the springs, as well as deplete volume. We can’t support the government’s plan to loosen regulations in order to expand facilities.” Hot springs are big business in Japan. More than 120 million people stay overnight at such resorts annually, while millions go for day trips, according to the association'.
Funny how ThinkGeoEnergy (Jul. 5) refers to the same article, taking the odd snippets here and there but finishes with this addition, supposedly their own words
'While other countries show that geothermal development for power generation can co-exist with direct use applications, such as spas and baths, there seems to be still a long way in Japan to find common grounds on the utilisation of the great geothermal resources of the country'.
One way to ease opposition is to let communities share in the proceeds. ThinkGeoEnergy (Jun. 21) has announced that 
'Local governments in Indonesia have been trying to get access to some of the profits derived from geothermal operations in their communities and it now seems like this is going to happen'.
What is actually meant are lower governments, not communities ....

#daharofamz #hotspring#sibayak#sibolangit #mask with Sulfur#sharangeo 😚
Onsenexit?
More developments but not geothermal.

X
enogears has an article (Jan. 2016) on the Japanese bathhouse:
'For the longest time, Japanese public baths were an integral aspect of Japanese society. In 1968, the industry peaked with 17,642 bath houses existing across the nation. However, by spring of 2008 that number dropped to a mere 4,343, and it continues to decrease at a rate of almost one a day. There simply aren’t enough customers to support the industry, not to mention that there are few young people prepared to take over the business, and the facilities themselves are breaking down due to their age. Japanese people who would like to bathe together are now more likely to attend a large-scale bath houses or make a day trip to a natural hot spring (onsen), rather than remain local'.
It puts its hopes on foreign tourists to keep the bathhouses afloat. 

Maybe it's a cultural thing, natural soaking in places such as Iceland, North America, New Zealand and Italy has seen quite an increase in recent years, with internet providing better info and the increased free time actually resulting in visits to hot springs. 
Japan will catch up soon I believe and the plenty availability of onsens will only reward the renewed interest.

Relief
Then over to the regional focus starting off a snippet on non(?) news. From the Travel Daily Media (May 10):
'Thailand’s Dusit International has unveiled plans to open a new luxury hot spring resort in southeast China’s Fujian province'.
Oh well, catering to rich and (nearly) famous. 
Anyway as stated above not much texts to focus on, so it's over to the picture section with the odd reference.
  • Thailand
aonjungnida Khanchanaburi's Rock Valley Hot Spring & Fish Spa

ทริปเพื่อนรัก 2016#happytrip#withlove#friends😍😘😙#kanjanaburitrip #thailand #travel #thailandtravels #summer #onsen #onsenthailand #aday
  • Singapore
Singapore's Sembawang generates quite some news. Let's start with Channelnews Asia (Apr. 18):
'The potential redevelopment of Sembawang Hot Spring into a national park has drawn mixed reactions from Members of Parliament (MPs) and regular visitors - but calls for the 108-year-old locale to resist commercialisation and retain its rusticity have been unanimous'.
But this seems to have been lost on some:
'Dr Chang Tou Chuang, a tourism geographer and associate professor at the National University of Singapore, also weighed in with suggestions on how to draw crowds to the Sembawang Hot Spring.
“The area is undeveloped and hence can only support a small crowd of visitors. It needs a larger critical mass of attractions in order to attract more people, including tourists,” he said, proposing a “nature-themed attraction that perhaps complements the spring with other water-related amenities and facilities”.
A neglected part of history:
'At the height of the spring’s popularity in the early 2000s, it would register hundreds of visitors daily, claimed 72-year-old retiree Mr Chen. Speaking in Mandarin, he said he has been bathing in the spring since he was a child living in a nearby kampung.
Mr Chen then related how the public were spooked and eventually left disinterested by the spring after an incident in 2002, when an elderly man lost six toes to gangrene after dipping his feet in the water - which was measured at a steaming 131°C in the late 1990s'.
Hot on this article's heels comes the Strait Times (Apr. 23): 
'The question of what to do with the Sembawang Hot Spring at Gambas Avenue has been mulled over for decades.
Senior Minister of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung said on Saturday (April 23) that the land where the hot spring is on will be returned to the State.
The area may be turned into a park, as Mr Ong said he hopes a public agency such as the National Parks Board can take over, and maintain it'.
Then an onsen has opened for business in Singapore. Asiaone (May 28): 
'Have you always yearned to soak your weary body into the hot spring baths at Japan's relaxing 'onsens'? Well, you're in luck because Singapore's first spa offering authentic Japanese-style public baths has opened its doors. Located at Kallang Wave Mall, Yunomori Onsen & Spa features 11 pools with six variations of baths'.
Things you should know: 
'no. 2. You don't have to be fully naked
Thankfully for us, the founders of Yunomori Onsen & Spa understand that we Singaporeans are pretty conservative and are a shy lot. Therefore, the spa offers disposable undergarments for both men and women. Yes, we can hear your sigh of relief'. 
No mention about whether or not the waters are natural. Doesn't seem so.
2. You don't have to be fully naked
Thankfully for us, the founders of Yunomori Onsen & Spa understand that we Singaporeans are pretty conservative and are a shy lot. Therefore, the spa offers disposable undergarments for both men and women. Yes, we can hear your sigh of relief.
- See more at: http://women.asiaone.com/women/beauty/5-things-you-should-know-about-singapores-very-first-japanese-onsen#sthash.822XVy4A.dpuf
  • Philippines

flipfloppintraveler at Mateo Hot & Cold Spring, San Benon, Irosin, Sorsogon
: reflecting relaxation

nothing more soothing to an aching body from surfing that to take a dip in this hot spring pool from Mt. Bulusan
  • Indonesia
Indonesia Trip Tips (Jun. 16) has a top 7 of Indonesia's best natural thermal baths. Surprisingly 6 of those are on Java and 1 on Bali, so much for the rest of Indonesia. 

No. 1 from the list (and Bali's only contribution), posted by yuragawashinkurou 
#banyuwedang #bali #hotspring #landscape
Finishing off with what seems a more often occurrence: not always are hot springs soothing. Channelnews Asia (May 11): 
'The Search and Rescue Team has found and recovered the body of a climber who reported drowned in the Aik Kalak hot spring of Mount Rinjani [Isle of Lombok] on Sunday (May 8).
Have you always yearned to soak your weary body into the hot spring baths at Japan's relaxing 'onsens'? Well, you're in luck because Singapore's first spa offering authentic Japanese-style public baths has opened its doors.
Located at Kallang Wave Mall, Yunomori Onsen & Spa features 11 pools with six variations of baths.
- See more at: http://women.asiaone.com/women/beauty/5-things-you-should-know-about-singapores-very-first-japanese-onsen#sthash.822XVy4A.dpuf
Better on Sulawesi, by refly51_around:
nature spa
#nature#spa#bathing#kelewaha#waterfall#hotspring#tombatu

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Varm

Air Panas Waigete #airpanas #waigete #maumere #flores #ntt
Long time, no see? Apparently that's what happens when u are busy busy. Or better said putting your priorities elsewhere.

Following are a couple of pictures from the region which might be to your likely. Well, better siad they are to my liking.
 
We started off with Indonesia (above) which always has some of the regions most enticing hot springs. Following in alphabetic order is just the soliatary soak from Burma:
 
#naturalresort #hotspring#taungngu#lovelyday

Gather
Indonesia condures up many a potential photo-op however somehow I've included another from Flores, with the second photo of having a shower: it's not often that having a shower is emphasied at the popular soaking possibilities in Southeast Asia.

 
    #hotsprings #niceandvarm #funnypictures
ncis_meira
Monthly gathering means showering together after #hotsprings #bali #kintamani #island #likeforlike #ilovebali #wonderfulindonesia #noedit #friendship
Sit back

#favourite #memory bathing in an #amazing #natural #hotspring with the local #village #people in #laos - the area was actually divided in two sections one for #men and the other for #women and #children - it was a #beautiful moment to be apart of and our presence excepted! #hotsprings #secrethotspring #washing #bathing #beautifulmoments #travel #travelgram #travelstories #backpacking #journey #destination #ilovepeople #laotian #ilovelaos #amazingplace 
source

Laos (above) is still a country where tourists are yet to discover the many soaking possibilities, leaving the hot springs as pristine as one could hope for.
Malaysia (below) in contrast has overdeveloped most of their hot springs, only those off the main road still having some attractive powers if only for avoiding the hordes of merry makers:

iamtravelist
#Borneo #hotspring #nature #sarawak #kuching #malaysia #travel #life #weekend #sitbackandrelax #spa #water #blue #countryroad #hot #naturalhotspring #kuchingtravel
More ... nerves
 
Only 35.8°C, much better! [sweat_smile] #hotsprings #cebuisland #philippines #travel #discover #itsmorefuninthephilippines #hotwater #nature #wanderlust #instatravel 
 source

Wrapping up this photo overview, we start with the Phillippines (above and below), followed by Thailand, with the last photo from Vietnam.
Hot spring is one of my fave natural waterpool. The warm water relaxes my nerves. Arden Hot Spring, Camiguin #camiguin #beautifulisland #adventuretime #rowinwonderland #hotspring 
nene_nae at Rock Valley Hot Spring and Fish Spa, Khanchanaburi:
ออนเซนแบบไทยๆ ตีโป่ง 😂 #onsen
aussieinwanderlust at one of Pai's hot spring resorts (Mae Hong Son province)
The happiness when you stumble along a cool natural springs resort....only to find out that it's SUPER HOT. This is not refreshing when it's 40 degrees out already! 😫😫😫
On👌 #waterweb #inaction #potd #hotspring #onpoint #flickonpoint #hairflickoftheday #albahotspring #vietnam #huecity #vietnamtrip2016

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Instasoak

 
antai sore di kolam air panas ber-belerang sambil menikmati kopi kotakan,, #menikmati #hidup #epic #awesome #hotspring #mountain #gunungpeyek #parung #bogor #visitbogorn#explorebogor #explorejabar #instapic #instagram #iphonesia #iphone6s #landscape #selfie #weekdaytrip #backpackerjakarta #backpacker #instanusantarabogor #sunset #parapejalan #paradise #instagunung #visitindonesia #indonesia @Ciseeng, Parung Bogor, Indonesia 
 source

There's little newsworthy to add; more and more the internet is becoming just a pictural roll of all what sparkles and shines.

Fortunately hot springing seems a never ending experience of respect, pleasure and relaxation. So there's no dearth of photo's of soaking.

But beware for mainstreaming (i.e. is soaking becoming too popular?) lurking, waiting to pounce on the opportunity to literally sell itself and the soakers soul for a pittance.

What follows is just a brief insight into what's topical (and interesting) and too many photo-ops ...

Doubts
See also the section below on the Philippines. Why? Because it deals with social aspects of geothermal development. With some hope, this is a subject which will be dealt with at the forthcoming Iceland Geothermal Conference which goes out of it's way to highlight that besides all the normal hoopla, there needs to be social inclusion. Thinkgeoenergy (Mar. 29):
'So it is great to see the Iceland Geothermal Conference in Iceland in April this year, to dedicated a whole session and several presentation to this important topic. The session will feature experiences from a project in Ethiopia, a new project in the North of Iceland, a project in Hungary, as well as a view from the Iceland Geothermal Cluster. In an additional presentation, Marietta Sander from the International Geothermal Association will talk about the implications from the recent climate meetings and agreements of the COP21 meetings for the geothermal sector'. 
Whether excluding this theme to a byline to a big money / big science event will justify it's cause or give legitimacy to current geothermal development remains to be seen. Benefit of the doubt?
 
Bathing at Ardent Hot spring, Camiguin, Philippines
Totally
News.com.au has a report (Jan. 31) from a business person getting business through soaking at deep Creek hot spring, California. U.S.A.: 
'I never thought I’d strike a business deal while sitting in a hot spring, totally naked except for a pair of sunglasses, and sharing a plate of hummus and carrot sticks with a tech executive, a medical student and the CEO of an online shopping website'.
The  NZ Herald (Apr. 7) has a piece on using stickers to overcome tattoo problems in Japanese onsen.
'The Japan Tourism Agency has compiled measures to be taken by ryokan inns and bath facilities to reduce the number of cases in which foreign visitors are refused admittance to bath facilities because of their tattoos.
The guideline measures include distributing or selling stickers to cover tattoos, and allowing customers who have covered their tattoos with such stickers to enter bath facilities'.
Though the article refers to the Washington Post, there's a more original article from Japan Today (Apr. 3):
'For generations in Japan, it was almost exclusively yakuza who had tattoos. Recently, more young Japanese people than in the past have been showing an interest in tattoos from a fashion and personal style standpoint, but inked flesh is still far more common in Japan’s criminal underworld than the law-abiding sectors of its society. Because of this, hot springs in Japan commonly bar individuals with tattoos from entering their baths, since the relaxing atmosphere that draws onsen fans tends to be somewhat disrupted when sharing the tub with a mobster.
...
so an obvious foreign national with “Go Lakers!” tattooed across his bicep or a butterfly on her calf is unlikely to produce extreme uneasiness among the other bathers.
However, hot spring operators are understandably averse to the idea of putting up notices stating “Tattoos are OK…but only if you’re a foreigner!” Still, proponents of relaxing restrictions feel that even if tattooed people of any nationality are allowed to use the onsen, inked Japanese will refrain from doing so, out of consideration to existing cultural attitudes, and thus a change in policy will not result in an increased yakuza presence in the baths'.
Enjoying the silence
 And then the Southeast Asian focus
  • Burma
After a lengthy bike ride we arrived at the hot springs #worthit #khaungdaing #naturalhotsprings #myanmar #Burma 
On the Inle lake (right), source
I acabar el #trekking dutxant-te com si fossis birmà! [bikini] [sun_with_face] And finish the trekking taking a local shower! [bikini] [sun_with_face] #Integració100perCent! #Lipotímiques #Vacances #Vida #HotSpringWater #NaturalHotSpring #HotSpring #Hsipaw #HsipawTrek #Kyankhin #Integration100percent #NearFainting #Holidays #Life #FollowTheRixi #LreneAndLainMyanmarTrip #Birmania #Myanmar
Shan state (left), source 
 
  • Indonesia

Bathing at hidden hot spring kawangkoan #bathing #hidden #hotspring #kawangkoan #streetphoto #streetphotograpy #travelgram #airpanas #like4like #likeforlike #nature #green 
Sulawesi,  source

  
Natural hot springs in Jatiluwih, Bali. [hotsprings] #hotsprings #ubud #jatiluwih #bali #natural #hot #water #gopro #nonletture #yumiswanderlust #enjoythesilent #jungle #nature #enjoylife #wanderlust #amazing #chillout
  •  Laos
 
มึ่นี้ขี้นป้ายไห่มหมานแต่ฟัรงแช่วชะ 
Hot springs, near Kasi town, Vietiane province, Lao P.D.R.. Source: Facebook page of Vieng Laty
  • Malaysia
A local Malaysian government wants to upgrade hot springs (New Strait Times, Apr. 13):
'The Tourism and Culture Ministry is upgrading several infrastructures at the Lubuk Timah Hotspring recreational centre, Simpang Pulai here, towards making it a first class tourism centre'.
What was once (decade ago) a very natural hot spring will now naturally not be so anymore ...
A visit to Paku Hot Spring by aaronng88 (Feb. 27): 
'According to Sarawak Tourism and Sarawak Vacation Destinations .com (HERE), Paku Hot Spring is also another Bau attraction. So, on a day when I was craving a little lazing and relaxation in a hot spring, I decided to drop by. Not directly in town, Paku Hot Springs is not the easiest location to find, however, you do get several sign boards on the highway showing where to turn. You will have to turn to a kampung (village) called Pekan Paku, and keep going. Paku Hot Springs (Air Panas Paku), is not a building or a sheltered area. Just an open air, natural spring. Which at first glance looked abandoned. All it had was a sign board. And on closer examination, it wreaks of pollution and floating potato chip bags. The water is murky, with a greenish greyish hue, with colloid-ish bubbles. I was disgusted and disappointed. I did put my foot in for a few seconds at the 'cleaner' area. The water is warm and comforting, but the gross water is just too much of a turn off for me. Sucks cause I wanted to take a nice long dip and be all wrinkled when I come out~ Meh~ '
Walk out
Continuing ... 

 
Hot spring in Hapao rice terraces [clap] [skin-tone-2] #45minswalk #hotspring #banaue #hapaoriceterraces #march2016
Luzon, source

  • Philippines
How to play the press. The Philstar (Apr. 13) notes how opposition to a new geothermal plant near the town of Valencia (Cebu) has disappeared. Or has it?
'The mayor further recognized the concerns raised by certain groups but during consultations and a public hearing, which was widely disseminated to all the barangays in Valencia, and other stakeholders through his office, thus mitigating measures were recommended to address any negative effects of the expansion'. 
The town would receive extra taxes and royalties.
But it seems that money enough, is not that's what's requested. 350.org has a look at the flip side of this (Mar. 10):
'We [= environment groups] walked out to raise our opposition to the unjust process of the public hearing and the deliberate expansion project of EDC (Energy Development Corporation) at the Mount Talinis Range [= expansion of Southern Negros Geothermal Power Project]'.
The old tricks were used in what was supposed to be a public hearing. Opposing voices were silenced (literally, their microphones were turned off!). The Environment Impact Assessment presentation was poor / brief. 
'The Public Hearing held today is sadly a failure– reflective of the tragedy it can bring to this generation and the future generations. They may turn off the microphone to silence us, but they can never stop the collective voices resounding at the ranges of Mount Talinis [where the project is planned]'.
More problems and opposition. Businessmirror.com.ph (Mar. 5): 
'The popular hot spring of Pampanga, found in the hinterlands of Mount Pinatubo, is under fire from businessmen and 4×4 vehicle enthusiasts. .... Romero [Rene Romero of the Land Rover Club of the Philippines (LRCP)] said he was informed recently that residents living near Puning are “barred from touring their own relatives, friends and visitors at the portion of Sacobia River near the resort.” “As far as I know, the river is owned by the government. I can’t believe that our own province mates are not allowed to enjoy what belongs to the community,” Romero said. 
.... 
Tourism Regional Director Ronnie Tiotuico said on Thursday the Puning Hot Spring “cannot claim ownership of a property in its vicinity, much less prohibit people from using the same as entry point to certain places and beyond.”
#dumaquete #hotspring #philipinnes
Negros, source
  • Thailand

The Tourism and Culture Ministry is upgrading several infrastructures at the Lubuk Timah Hotspring recreational centre, Simpang Pulai here, towards making it a first class tourism centre.

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/04/137038/lubuk-timah-hotspring-upgraded-first-class-tourism-centre
The Tourism and Culture Ministry is upgrading several infrastructures at the Lubuk Timah Hotspring recreational centre, Simpang Pulai here, towards making it a first class tourism centre.

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/04/137038/lubuk-timah-hotspring-upgraded-first-class-tourism-centre
The Tourism and Culture Ministry is upgrading several infrastructures at the Lubuk Timah Hotspring recreational centre, Simpang Pulai here, towards making it a first class tourism centre.

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/04/137038/lubuk-timah-hotspring-upgraded-first-class-tourism-centre
Taking a hotspring bath when the temperature outside is 33 degrees celcius feels blessed:) #backpacking #hitchhiking #ranong #thailand #hotsprings  
Raksawarin, Ranong source
  • Timor

 
Maliana #hotsprings in Timor-Leste #laswim  
  • Vietnam
No pictures (!) but Vietnam's hot top 5 (paolionthemove) it seems:
1. Kim Boi Hot Spring in Hoa Binh, 
2. Bang Hot Mineral Spring in Quang Binh, 
3. Kenh Ga Hot Spring in Ninh Binh, 
4. Tay Vien Hot Spring in Quang Nam and 
5. Dam Rong Hot Spring in Lam Dong.

And to finish a picca from Indonesia instead:


 
#hotspring #bogor #ciapus #indonesia #indotravellers #rushpackers #traveling #wisataindonesia (at Ciapus, Indonesia)  

Monday, 15 February 2016

Dip

Can't get enough of the nature. [leaves]
Panchor hot spring, Sarawak, Malaysia source.

Time for a another photographic tour of the region, starting off with malaysia above and the Philippines below.


Dip for 20 minutes in this #hotspring and get a full body #massage at #bladespa straight across from the pool. #mambucal #amazing #negros #itsmorefuninthephilipines #beach #islandlife #lifeisgood #pinas #bakasyon #goproph #gopro #goprous #goprouniverse #goproworldwide #goprophotography #goproeverything #island #travel #beachlife #harrisadventures #travelph 
source


 

#ofatheexplorer #backpacker #igers #whenincebu #wanderer #wanderlust #goprohero4 #mytravelgram #hotsprings #yolo
Mainit hot spring, Cebu, Philippines,  source

Explore

#onsen ? Nope. It's just another typical of #hotsprings .
Somewhere on Java (left)?  source
  
#hotspring #northsumatra #exploresumatra #adventure #sibayak


   
{ Natural hot springs in Khaung Daing. } #eauxthermales #eauxchaudes #thermal #waters #hotsprings #myanmar #inlay #inle #burma #birmanie #travel #chill 
  
#hotsprings #pai #thailand #ophelia
Pai's geothermal heaven, Mae Hong Son province, source

 Namtok Ron Hot spring waterfall 
Krabi, source Kent Wang

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Channeling


 Annah Rais Hot Spring is a few minutes' drive away from Annah Raid Longhouse, a Bidayuh settlement about 100km south of Kuching, at the foothill of Borneo Highlands near the mountains marking the border to Kalimantan. The invigorating hot water is about 40°C degree (sometimes reaching 70°C) and it appears in the middle of a cooling jungle stream surrounded by singing birds and chirping crickets. A truly unique experience. #annahraishotspring #annahrais #hotspring #bidayuhvillage #bidayuhlonghouse #longhouse #bidayuh #tropicalrainforest #rainforest #jungle #catcitykuching #beautifulkuching #junglestream #stream #kuching #sarawak #borneo 

Modern poverty
It's no doubt that progress and development are the main driving forces of the loss of natural hot springs. 
In Southeast Asia and in the wider world. 
Whereas in Southeast Asia money seems to be at the heart of this loss, a recent article blames social media. The article's author, Christine Adele, on diyphotography.net (Nov. 18) proclaims that social media is stimulating unwise use of protected natural lands, in her case specifically in the north of the United States.
'To them [as opposed to the author], the only purpose nature serves is to provide them with the shot that they can pump up in photoshop to gain more followers and impress their friends and family. They think about outdoing the shot the last person who visited got. They think about the now, and not about how their actions might affect these parks in the future. These actions continue to snowball as people do increasingly ridiculous things to outshine others'.
In this one can easily substitute the wider use of the definition of nature with hot springs. 
The plethora of social media and especially facebook and instagram (both with their culture of lookatme) are increasingly providing a stage for risk-takers to avenge on nature as well as letting better known secrets become famous. 
It's irrespective of where we are, be it Iceland (Hrunulaug), France (St Thomas), Italy (Viterbo), Thailand (Sai Ngam), Indonesia (Rinjani), New Zealand (Kerosene creek) or the U.S.A. (Umpqua / Skinnydipper), the lure of a natural soak in a natural surroundings with little or no visitor management and advertised on social media is encouraging more visitors to do likewise. Or to abuse the natural conditions or stretch the capacity of nature to cope with those visitors.
Or is it?

Social
 media can also capture the beauty of an area, it can also educate the visitor, it can also promote the opportunity to be at one with nature. Sites being overrun are more often than not zero-managed (and thus open to (ab)use not seen elsewhere) or as in Southeast Asia open to exploitation by touring companies.

Christine continues
:
'It’s hopping fences, going into closed areas, feeding wildlife, picking flowers, camping illegally, using drones, using sparklers for light painting, swimming in protected waters, bringing our pets into protected backcountry.
It can be hard for some to understand how just one person doing these things could possibly be a big deal. The problem is, its not just one person- its hundreds of people influencing thousands of people influencing millions of people'. 
Nevertheless, her solutions are a call to ignore abuse. Hardly a solution.
Better would be to use social media to initiate change, to create affirmative action and to highlight the creative forces behind nature.
Comments on this article:
'There have always been knuckleheads in National parks. Social Media just makes them more visible'.
'Let's be clear: social media is not making people commit these acts, they make the decisions themselves. As someone stated, social media may be exacerbating the problem, but it is not the root of the issue. People are making very poor decisions, unfortunately, and it's important to remember that we're all responsible for our own actions'.
Continuing, giving locals a say, as a way to create a collective responsibility. The U.S. Forest Service has been gaining info on the future of Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs (Statesmanjournal, Nov. 5):
'The most popular ideas for the future of the site — as indicated in the survey results — show a preference for stone soaking pools, a network of trails and a small campground.
Other popular ideas include keeping the site low-impact and natural while including amenities such as a pit toilet, picnic tables and bridge across the river. The response also showed an openness to paying a small fee if the funds were used to keep the area clean and safe'. 
It does seem to be at odds with other initiatives from the same service making public access to soaking sites elsewhere in the U.S.A. more difficult ...

Co-existence
Over on soakersforum a discussion on the (de-)merits of geothermal exploration. If feasible, will geothermal exploitation lead to the loss of hot spring soaking opportunities?

The discussion seems to think not: all what is happening is a pumping around of water. 

Then there are arguments from Japan:
'In fact, there are 27,405 identified hot spring wells and over 21,000 combined hot spring spas and inns, according to 2014 data published by the nation’s Ministry of Environment.
Over 126 million people visit Onsens annually, spending considerable amount of money at spas, hotels, restaurants, and shops at hot springs. Because of the significant economic activities related to tourism, local communities didn’t think that Onsen business and geothermal power plants could co-exist'.
Several examples are given from the U.S.A. of hot springs drying up / dried up.
Then the crux which seems to follow the lead of this posting:
'We have lost far more soaks to irresponsible users and lack of respect than we have to geothermal power'. 
And the use of binary geothermal systems will probably not affect the springs themselves.

Read more below in the Philippines section on how pumping hot water for soaking is affecting soaking ...

Sticky
Japanese owners of onsen are apparently hoping that their lowering of standards concerning visitors with tattoos will reap more money courtesy of foreign tourists paying a visit. 
Well, actually the national tourism organisation is hoping this will happen and is nudging the owners in that direction. So reports the South China Morning Post (Nov. 5):
'With visitor numbers soaring but mindful of not upsetting the company’s Japanese guests, Hoshino Resorts has taken a more proactive approach to the problem.
“For small tattoos, we provide guests with a sticking plaster that they can use to conceal it before they go into the hot spring,” said the company official, who declined to be named.
“We do understand that tattoos have become fashionable in other countries and we really did want to do something that would be acceptable to everyone,” she said. “We believe this will mean that everyone will be able to enjoy our onsen.”
Not all of Japan’s operators have been as quick to keep up with modern realities, however, which has caused confusion among foreign visitors who had no idea that they would be refused access to an onsen if they had a tattoo.
A study carried out recently by the Japan Tourism Agency revealed that 56 per cent of hotels and inns across the country do not permit anyone with a tattoo to use their communal bathing facilities and have no provisions to help bathers conceal a tattoo.
Just over 30 per cent said they will not turn someone with a tattoo away, while a further 13 per cent say they will grant someone with a tattoo access under certain conditions, such as having it covered up".
While on the subject of soaking habits: the Shanghaiist (Oct 5) has this odd piece of news:
'Officials at the Huaqing Hot Springs in Shaanxi province have urged visitors to please, please kindly refrain from taking pictures of themselves feeling up a statue of an ancient Chinese beauty after it stopped being funny a long time ago'.
 
Thanks for the memories [heart_eyes] #vietnam #bath #hotsprings #piscine #nature #backpackers #explorers #landscape #beautifulday #morning #river #holidays #massage #instatravel #hmong #authenticity #ramenezmoilabas Crédit [camera] @guillaume_40
Afoul of the Vietnamese public scrutiny? Source

Vietnam also seems to be struggling with tourist antics. Apparently they are also awakening to the naked foreigner phenomena: posing in nature.
And Vietnam does not like. Thanhnien News (Dec. 29):
'A recent photo of three foreigners standing completely naked on Fansipan, Indochina's highest mountain in northern Vietnam, has received strong reactions on social media.
...
The foreigners were disrespectful to a Vietnamese location deemed by many as a national icon'.
However it was deemed less obscene by many of the comment contributors, which seems evidence of a more healthy attitude.

Carrying on. What might allude many, is how Thai tourists are increasingly visiting Japan and many seem OK with the onsen culture. Or even wanting to experience this traditional custom as authentic as possible. 
This is evidenced on instagram where I see many Thai language reactions / comments on onsen photo's. Take the example of the more famous onsen of Takaragawa, where bathing al fresco is the way to go:

 
Onsen Time ท่ามกลางหิมะ ☃ ☃ กับสาวน้อย @nene_nunoo #happytime #happytrip #tokyuagain #ของขวัญปีใหม่ #เรื่อยเปื่อยทัวร์
 source
Maybe it's just the snow and hot bath which elicits the need to photo one self. Very foreign to Thailand. Pretty picture btw and one of many examples.
 

Finally back to China. With temperatures dropping in China, it seems a bit contradictory for the Shanghaiist to report (Nov. 30): 
'But, in Chongqing, when conditions start to get a bit nippy, that's when the nude swimmers come out to play'.
Estimation
Taiwan lies on the border between Asian free for all and the Japanese art of onsening. Travelmomo notes Taiwans penchant for private hot springs in Yilan:
'In their hearts, Taiwanese are shy to go naked in front of other people. If possible, they prefer private bath (I think that's most people). That's why Hot! Spring Onion only offers private rooms of different sizes and designs for friends and families'. 
Not such a natural experience though ....

Lisong Hot Springs, Taiwan
The country is increasingly becoming a great hot spring destination. 
On a recent blog entry (Dec. 2015) My Taiwan tour highlighted Taiwan's soaking capital of Beitou:
'The entrance to Beitou Park (北投公園) is just across the street from the metro station. There are a number of small Beitou Stream waterfalls within the park. “Early on, before many facilities were developed, Japanese nationals would come here and soak in the pools below the falls – naked, in the Japanese fashion. This caused quite a stir with locals, and Japanese officials thought it best to stop the practice, to maintain Japanese dignity and esteem.” (Today only foot-soaking is allowed in the stream.) Small inns and baths began to pop up'.
A good site for more info on Taiwan's soak is a recent (Jan. 3) posting on rtaiwanr:
'Apart from night markets, hot springs in Taiwan are the must-see for many visitors. Hot springs are loved not only for their novelty, but also for their therapeutic benefits, as they provide relief to nervous, digestive, circulatory or organ disorders. This is because hot springs emerge from the very depths of the Earth, meaning that their waters carry a powerful mix of natural minerals and chemicals that are beneficial to our health. Today, many resort-style hot springs have taken advantage of this, creating luxury spa and health centres where customers can take advantage of hot spring hydrotherapy. However, many Taiwanese still prefer to go and have a good soak in the much untouched hot springs, as their ancestors once did'.
 Life in color. Stop racism! #pemandian #air #panas #angseri #tabanan #bali #stop #racism #nature #green #hotspring 
source

Lessons
How to learn from / about Japan and Japanese customs? From anime (artifice.com)? 
Concerning the onsen:
'does anime teach viewers about how to use bath houses? There is a very specific way to use an onsen and every one will have slightly different rules so it can be helpful to look for a sign'.
Not much assistance. 
A Japanese onsen (and anime) could also teach us about body acceptance and concepts of shame. 
Alas the author only notes that not wearing shoes inside is a rule one learns from onsen culture in anime!

Then something different, but also a wise lesson.
From Reuters (27 Oct.), a two minute feature video on how a man made disaster could possibly be less of a disaster. Named Lupindo after the company that caused the mud stream to start, there might be some way to gain from attracting tourists. 
Plausible, though the mud is noted as poisonous. 
And it could be another 100 years before the mud stops flowing (source). Check for a scientific based discussion on wikipedia.

Advisable
A quick ramble through the region:
  • Burma

Finding a hot spring in Burma by guymaclaury (in photo above):
'At the end of the day, as the sun was getting ready to set, we found the hot spring. Our group dwindled from 6 to 4 because of sickness and the heat.
We were lost while searching for this hot spring when a local who didn't speak English guided us to it. Perfect way to end a long, arduous day on bicycles in the heat'.
Fear not, there are more sophisticated soaks in Burma than the puddle above. Example:

#Shvitzing in the #hotsprings #myanmar #inlelake #mountaintop
  • Indonesia
Aroengbinang has a couple of recent blog entries on the hot springs of Tirta Sanita Ciseeng and Ciparay, both in the vicinity of Bogor, Java.
On the Tirta Sanita Ciseeng hot spring:
'One of the VIP soaking tubs at Tirta Sanita Ciseeng Hot Spring compound which can only be used by one person at a time. Please be advised that a couple is forbidden using the VIP soaking tubs at the same time, even though they are legitimate husband and wife. It is probably better that way to avoid any bad impression and abuse of the facility'.
Quite an interesting blogger he has other entries on the hot springs Kuningan Sangkanurip, Walini and Gunung Pancar.

An introduction to Guci hot water in Tegal regency.

 
#hotsprings #samosir #sumatra #indonesia
  • Malaysia
A map of Malaysian hot springs. Misses half I think.
 

Here's another not included hot spring. Malaysian Traveller (Dec. 28) visits Dusun Tua hot spring, Selangor:
'There is no entrance charge at present but there is a donation box where visitors can contribute to the cost of maintaining the changing rooms, toilets and other facilities'.
Recent other vists include Kuala Kubu, Selayang and Hulu Tamu.

 
Di Malaysia pun ada Onsen la. Kalau agak agak jammed otw kerja tu singgah jap la kolam air panas , kasi buang toksin dalam badan biaq tak malas jaa, buang penyakit badan then buang semak kat kapla biaq tak serabut. Kalau nak buang penyakit hati lagi senang, zikir je, Masyallah. #onsen #kemalaysiakekita #jejakmalaysiamiyul #selayangkusayang #kolamairpanasmenggelegak #bolehmasaktelur #jgnminumnntmabukpiau #takpanaske #akuygmandikoygpanas #kodahkenapa #hdr 
Selayang, source

One of Malaysia's more well-known hot springs, is that of Bentong. It however is not a commercial for soaking. 
Azrin went there last October and was not bowled over by his stay at the newish Suria hot spring resort nor by the soaking opportunities at the hotel:
'Waterwise, kids pool, flipping cold. Not even bluish. Unchorinated I suppose. Hot pools had water fed in, piping hot and I do not recall the natural pool being this hot, about 60'c or so I figure they recycled the water. No natural sulphuric smell but of my old school longkang back in Rulang. Anyway, I got my cheap fix. Not so cheap. My eyes are itchy from the haze too. Reminder to oneself, go to the natural pool'.
 
 泡 溫泉之寧靜心靈,一切歸零。 [herb] [leaves] [fallen_leaf] [hotsprings] [high_brightness] #hotdippingpot #geothermalwater #relaxingtime #happyday #haveanicedayahead #happiness #happy #holiday #lovelife #natural #goodmood #hotsprings
Yes, you guessed correctly, it's Banjaran got spring. Source
  • Philipines
Mainit Spring in Malabuyoc by outoftownblog:
'The entrance fee was only twenty pesos. The tourist spot consists of multiple springs of flowing water naturally heated by underground sulfuric rock. One mini-spring had the highest temperature of 42.6 degrees Celsius. Dipping my finger to test the temperature, the water was indeed very hot'.
 
2014 - 2015 Year Ender Mainit Hot Spring Photo Taken: April 12, 2015 #vscoph #vscocebu #vscocam #springs #hotsprings #nature #malabuyoc #cebusouth #cebu #igers #igerscebu #wanderlust #choosephilippines #igtravel #travelph #travel #pinasmuna #cebukeepsmegoing #ig_philippines #bestshots_ph #vscophilippines #iluvcebu #travel_philippines #mobilephotography

A scientific study ((Jago et al., 2015) Science Direct, Dec. 21) on pumping hot spring water in Calamba and Los Baños in the Philippines. Note they refer to both towns having together more than 500 (!) hot spring resorts / spa's. 
Part of their conclusion:
'Hot spring water resorts and spas in Calamba and Los Baños, Laguna are estimated to consume a large volume of groundwater which could result to over-extraction and decrease in groundwater quantity. However, monitoring of actual usage is difficult as most of these resorts do not have water use permits. The Water Code of the Philippines requires water users to register and apply for permits for water allocation, but still many resorts have not yet registered with the NWRB. If groundwater extraction is left unregulated, water availability for the resorts industry and for other uses in the future, will be negatively affected'.
  • Singapore
Trying to recreate the real thing. From the ikeda spa site:
'As the hinoki wood comes in contact with hot water, it releases a unique type of skin-soothing oil that is widely used in Japanese skincare products. The spa waters are infused with interestingly-scented onsen (hot spring) bath salts to recreate the ultimate onsen experience'.

 
[heart_eyes] Who needs to go Japan when you can onsen like at @ikedaspa [bathtub] #throwback #filming #ikedaspa #onsen #relax #channelu #clarkequay #prestige #japan  
source
  •  Thailand
 
Murky #onsen #hotspring water #ChiangDao, #ChiangMai, Northern #Thailand  

Note
Jago, K.A.B., F.P Sirignan, R. Balangue-Tarriela, M. Taniguchi, Y. K. Reyes, R. Lloren, M.A. Peña, E. Bagalihog (2015) Hot spring resort development in Laguna Province, Philippines: Challenges in water use regulation. Science direct: Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, Vol. 4, Part B. Elsevier, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
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