Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Update


Just some of the pictures / info I've noticed over the past months concerning just a few of the many, may hot soaks in the Himalaya and further away ...
  • Bhutan 

After the wash out of a few years back this is what the hot springs of Gasa are coming to look like. Sourced from the tumbler of bhutanmajestictravel1:
'The Gasa Tsachu “Hot Spring” very popular for both Nationals and also Tourist to come soak because there are different Bath Tubs for different illness, such as Tuberculosis, Joints, Rashes and so on. Best time is Spring and Winter but my recommendation is late Autumn and late Spring because of lesser visitors. #gasa #hotspring #autumn #spring #winter #tsachu'
Also from Bhutan, this photo from John Berthold as part of a series on the country:

'Bathers enjoy a soak in the Gelephu hot spring in Southern Bhutan next to a small shrine dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava'.
  • China

    Hotspring waterfall spa in Liangshan of Sichuan province, China. #China #waterfall #spa #nature #hotspring #Sichuan #温泉 #凉山 #四川 #backpacking
  • India
Trekking and soaking are heaven sent. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Himalaya's. Read this trek account from Ujithra Ponniah. An excerpt:
'The trek to Kheerganga begins from Barshani village, which is the last motorable point. It is a 14km uphill trek through the forest.  The forest is alive and buzzing with life and the Parvati River accompanies you through your walk. Having recuperated from our long trek to Kheerganga and enjoyed the dip in the hot spring and rejuvenating sight of the first layer of snow on the surrounding mountains, we trekked further with the hope of reaching Tunda Bhuj, a place adorned with a wide variety of sub-alpine forests'.
What Kheerganga looks like (female side; even so far from reality old habits die hard ...): 

#hotsprings #india #trek 
Kheerganga, Himachal Pradesh, India, source

A hot spring in Madkot, Uttarakhand, India, photo from Picasa accountant Arun Chendukala:

  • Kazakhstan
С добрым утром братва!Вы видите сероводородный источник, который находится в устье р. Горельник.По слухам местных жителей его вода омолаживает и снимает усталость.Температура воды источника около 22°С.#Казахстан #Горы #ГорячийИсточник #Медео #Вхламтур
It says Kazakhstan, so it must be so. But not hot? source

  • Kyrgyzstan
#Горячийисточник #hotsprings #kyrgisztan #socrowded #healthy #salty #hot #swimming #issykkul
source
  • Mongolia 
Tsenkher hot spring, from the blog of ontheroadwithclaire. 
  • Nepal
Hotspring near Nepal - Tibet boarder #nepal #tibet #hotspring #tatopani
source

L'eau doit aussi avoir des vertus quand on la boit car de nombreuses personnes remplissent des bouteilles.
More black and white, this time it is from Chilime Tatopani, Nepal, also near the border with Tibet. More great photo's from Le Voyage de Philmy
  • Siberia

Nearly off the Asian continent are the Kuril islands. From this summer are photo's from Eugene Kapersky on flickr:


Iturup hot springs (above) and Urup (below):


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Into the wide open?

Hard trek
Located in the north-western tip of India, the state of Arunachal Pradesh, covers a tremendous amount of terrain, not much smaller than the whole of Nepal. The former contained more than 40 hot springs so it's not surprising to see that Arunachal Pradesh has quite some thermal activity, though possibly less developed and / or visited. It's therefore understandable that there's less info on the internet available.

Re-known for the many different ethnicities, Arunachal Pradesh is distinctly remote, little roads offer any kind of access. Tawang district bordering both Tibet and Bhutan is accessible and contains largely Tibetan Buddhist ethnicities. As one of the most accessible mountain areas it's not surprising to find that (as is the case with Bhutan to it's east) there are a number of hot springs not far away from Tawang itself (relatively speaking ...).

Tsachu Hot Spring is a bit of a language anomaly; Tsachu already being the Bhutanese name for a hot spring. It seems to be the most well-known, though not so easy to visit:
'Tsachu hot spring which can be reached by traveling by a light motor vehicle for two hours from Tawang up to Sarong Gonpa and trekking from there for another three hours'.
Or:
'Tsachu Hot Spring can be reached by travelling for 4 hours by a vehicle and another 4 hours on foot'.
Do note that Tawang is 10 hours drive from the nearest airport .... Tripadvisor is still waiting for reviews ... And this website notes the distance from Tawang as 230 km and adds:
'Apart from hot spring, this site is also suitable for hard trekking'.

The hot spring of Thingbu is located 68 km away from Tawang town. Apparently a pony is the most used form of transport for the final stretch from the roadhead.

Other hot springs located in Tawang district are Kitpi or Greng-khar (Grenkhar), the former being the name of the village rather than the name of the hot spring. This website adds:
'It is about 40 kms away from tawang town.This hot water spring and ‘ Manchu’ provides warm, sulphur rich water and cures many ailments'.
There's a slightly scientific entry on hot springs in Tamang which hardly adds to the above other than this gem:
'Monpa, Sherdukpen, Miji and Aka tribes take holy bath in these hot springs in the belief that their sins will get washed away. They also take a dip in the water for 1–3 h for healing any kind of skin disease.
Dejection
Mago
hot spring is located nearer Jang:
'where the water is so hot that “yak meat is cooked in 20 minutes”'.
Despite the above being the most well-known(?) in Arunachal Pradesh, there are no first hand experiences shared. This contrasts with Dirang (West Kameng district, south of Tawang), famous for it's apples, kiwi's and yaks to which Roy Biswas has paid a visit:
'The other famed tourist spot is the Hot Water Spring, which is also the main attraction for locals, who supposedly take bath in the Hot Springs as its water is said to possess curative properties. However, I was most dejected after having undertaken a long trek down from the main road, as an Ecological Camp has come up at the site, with a Cafeteria right in front of the Hot Spring, which is not only blocks the view of the Hot Spring, but also creates more ecological hazards, rather than preserving the ecology there for which it is meant & sounds. The local environment department needs to take a look at this, before it gets too late to redeem the hot spring'.

Others chime in:
'We had the exact same reaction when we went to check out that hot spring at Dirang. I would have expected at least a little bit of improvement there from 8 years back'.
Lower Dirang valley contains a hot spring near the village of Jia.

Located just inside of the Arunachal Pradesh - Assam border, the western town of Bhalukpong has it's own hot spring:
'Bhalukpong, which lies about 85 kilometers away from Bomdila on the foothills of Aka ranges, is an ideal picnic spot. The picturesque site is also a home to the Jia-Bharali river and a hot spring, which is believed to have a medicinal value (source)'.
Hot spring (sanaser, May 2014) 
Bomdilla. Source.

More to the east, Anjaw district contains two hot springs, one named Walong circle, the other Kibithoo circle.

'Located 20 km away from the Chinese border, Walong is situated on the western bank of river Lohit in Anjaw district. The mesmerizing place is famous for its hot water spring and the Namti valley. The hot spring is located amazingly at the confluence of river Dichu and Lohit. It is a major attraction of Walong and tourists fly to the place to take a soothing bath in the medicinal water of the hot spring'.

As always when there is little reference material, some caution is required as often different names as used for the soak!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Too far

'Jiangzha'
Sichuan, China. Source: messland

Lacking
Natural soaking areas are mostly threatened by developers. Away with the traditions, in with the wellness. But at a price. Development is mostly poorly done with little or no regard for local needs, all on the basis of pipe dreams: cash. But more often than not this cash is not forthcoming and the new owners of the previously publicly held entity now flip the premises to others who build more. If anything this blog seeks to endear the traditions and bath in the naturalness.

But the truth is that the future is more concrete, literally.  A lead article from scidev.net  (July 21). On Himalaya's geothermal potential. Basically more could be done with it. 
'Thousands of megawatts of geothermal energy remain locked up in the Himalayas because of environmental considerations and lack of investment in research, say international geologists'.
Another article can be found here..

Taking a dip in a hot spring #hotspring #swim #dip #wakhanvalley #tajikistan #afghanistan #ontheroad #wanderlust #nomad #hdtravellingslowly #bicycle #bicycletouring #cycletouring #cycletour2014
Just a shot from the travels of hannah and friends going east. A full description of their hot spring find here. If I am correct the above is from Tajikistan with Afghanistan on the far side ...

On roark.sleptlate.org you can find this soaking adventure from Jalal-abad, Kyrgyzstan:
'around 50 kilometers south of Arslenbob in the city of Jalal-Abad atop a hill is an old ex-Soviet spa/sanatorium.  these giant decaying facilities are speckled throughout Central Asia but this particular one happens to be built around a hot spring.  after several failed attempts at trying to navigate my way through the confusing Kyrgyz bureaucracy, i was finally able to book myself a “mud treatment”.  i was lead swiftly by the arm by a very helpful, very persistent nurse to the lower levels of the sanatorium where i was met by an older gentleman wearing a rubber apron and rubber boots.  he lead me through a door where a long hallway of tiled cubicles stood, poured a bucket full of hot smelly mud into a plastic covered bed and then made a few hand gestures that suggested i should strip naked and lay down in it.  there are times when getting naked is an easy, natural process but this time was most certainly not one of them.  i had come too far to turn back now.  the strange Kyrgyz man in the rubber suit with bucket in hand was waiting patiently for me to keep up my end of the bargain.  all i had to do was get those clothes off and… ya know… lay down in that mud immediately after.  and so i smiled at the nice man, who was still standing there of course… and then… well… did exactly that.  before i could fully come to grips with how vulnerable i felt lying there naked in the smelly hot mud, the man just laughed and then dumped a bucket of scolding hot mud all over me.  then he folded me into the plastic sheet like a burrito, covered me in additional wool blankets and poured in two additional buckets of mud, one in the opening at my feet and another in the opening at my neck.  then he shook me back and forth and then walked away.  as pain turned into pleasure, my face began to itch uncontrollably.  i was cocooned, hot and helpless.  then an overwhelming sensation of deep relaxation washed over me and seemed to penetrate my bones'.
Picture perfect

In contrast to the infinity pool on the men's side the ladies have to contend with the walled in soak at Khirganga, HP, India. Posted by catherineask
Holy natural hotspring in Kheer Ganga at 2960 metres! Perfect for karmacleaning.. All my sins washed away emoji #shiva is said to have #meditated in #kheerganga for #3000years

Just another photo from many concerning the Nujiang's (Yunnan, China) natural hot springs. Source

#hotspring #khangairesort chillin in paradise
Mongolia. bilguunkh4

After long trip to Tobolsk Hot Mineral Terms near Tyumen, 40 degrees of relaxation! emoji
Tyumen lies in west Siberia. dafchiz

Socializing
An interesting and different article on Bhutan's hot spring baths by ktshering.
'Unfortunately (with due respect to the hoteliers for using this word), the commercialized versions of hotstone bath tubs which is available in most resorts and hotels across Bhutan is just an attempt to make a close replication. Most importantly, it misses out the intricate social bonding process involved in the task which takes atleast a day. If the tourists are to pay a hefty price for this, then they must experience the process as well. More than the health benefit that one derives out of this "medicinal water", it is much about enhancing your family bonds, and building friendship
As far as my knowledge goes, no scientific studies have shown the water to have health benefits but Bhutanese will not mind continuing with the practice. The placebo effect, good meals and societal bonding during the process may be some of the reasons attributable for the revival of health'. 
He then describes the process and ends with this photo:

Enjoying the fruit of the hardwork
On sekaishinbun.net a top 10 of favourite hot springs. No. 3 on the list, Shikatori, is located somewhere between Yunnan and Sichuan (China), if possible:



No. 5 is from Tibet (Garze) which includes the strange notion of racy photo's on the wall surrounding the tub. No. 8 is likewise from Tibet, Tirtapuri. All-in-all nice photo's.

Wish i could shower like this every day! #nepal #hotsprings