Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Under the Everest

Xigazê or Shigatse [Xigazê] is a prefecture southwest of Lhasa. Seeing it is en route to Everest there are a number of accounts of hot springs.

Yatung and around

Two hot springs linked heavily (though often with exactly the same phrasing) are Xiqin (Xieqing?) and Yatung (Yadong, though also referred to as 'famous Kambu Qucain hot spring', Kangbu or Kangbo) hot springs. Read with me:
'Xiqin Hot Spring (4010 elevations) is located at Chusha Town in Lhatse (Lhazê) County, 10 km from the county and 0.5 km from the No. 318 national highway. It is said lots of illness can be cured by taking a shower in the hot spring.
Yatung Hot Spring is located at Kangpu Township, Yatung County. It is a healing center with physical therapy, entertainment, health care and accommodation. There are 13 mouths hot spring here with different water temperatures, which has quick curative effect on different kinds of illness including rheumatism, skin disease and fracture'.
The Tibet China: Travel Guide (1) adds:
'People all say that the springs in this area have magical medical effects. The 14 [!] here are different in temperature, mineral resources and effects. Legends say that bathing in these springs can relieve one from bone fracture, stomachache, rheumatism, skin disease and many other illnesses'.

Then this recent blog mentions only 12 different springs. It also mentions the existence of a new thermae.

The hot spring named Xieqing (could it be an alt for Xiqin?) is apparently getting ready for Tibetan New Year according to this recent (Jan 10, 2010) short
news clipping:

'As locals in Xigaze become rich, they choose many different ways to celebrate the traditional Tibetan new year and soaking in hot spring is one of their best choices'.
Soaking rich?
Possibly also referring to Xiqin but spelt as Xiuquian blogging cyclist (or is it cycling blogger?) Brad Davies shares this soaking experience:
'The complex, stuck in the middle of nowhere, was absolutely bizarre. The pool which served as the hot spring had about four inches of water in it despite being two metres deep. After eating I returned to the pool to find it full of Chinese army guys – naked – soaping each other while karaoke music echoed through the complex'.
Again most probably referring to the same hot spring (though not named) was visited by fellow blogging cyclists James and Marg:
'it was amazing to see a 16 by 4 meter pool, concrete painted walls some where to change and there were 8 or so locals there in the water. There was also a sauna, paradise. Cold and howling wind outside, inside aahhh! Had a swim and cleanup, the temp was 28 degrees and hot water issued slowly from a valve. The water is changed weekly, done yesterday. Don’t put your head under. 15Y for us and 5Y for locals'.
Elsewhere in Yatung valley you may also 'find' Liangpu hot spring.

Slimy or not?
A few days later Marg and James visit Tsamda (or Tingri) hot spring:

'Lots of Tibetans and a gent from Sichuan Province were rather bemused by our appearance, hairy, unshaven. Such issues of course do not burden them. Adjacent to the rooms was a hot pool indoors. Very warm within the closed poolroom. This pleasing ambience was let down by the adjacent toilet whose odour permeated the spar. The toilets were open to any one and there were passers by enjoyed our tanned bodies, not. The ladies present did not venture into the open central pool. It sat in a courtyard surrounded by the various rooms and seemed to be a men’s club only. Many stood around watching us looking like content walruses wallowing in the water'.
LP Tibet describes it as a
'slimy communal pool',
which is backed up by this first hand account from
'In the afternoon we headed over to some hot springs also by horsecart. This time the poor horsey had to lug the four of us to the hot springs! Once there we nearly fainted at the sight of the communal 'hot spring'- the slimiest most disgusting pool I've ever seen with all kinds of things floating in it. But we decided to treat ourselves to the private pool which was nice, and had the Brazilian music blaring through the Dutchies' travel speakers making our own little pool party!'
Finally Colin Bolton reveals the truth:
'Now the pool itself looked hot, but also slightly scummy.
we were a little surprise to see a lady carry some vegetables to the small feeder tank and start to wash and peel them in there. With various leaves and peelings floating past
A Chinese group turned up with the intention of having a quick dip and we noticed the vegetable chopping soon stopped and someone washed the scum off the surface pronto - I guess we weren't important enough. As we went to get something to eat more locals started turning up, and not being too shy, were soon naked and splashing around in the pool ...'
Aha, not important enough.

There is also a very recent eperience  by how to visit tibet:
'The odourless, iron-rich springs are about 12km west of Tingri, and are piped directly into the pools of the Tsamda Snow Leopard Hot Spring Hotel (dm Y40, d Y200-280). Most travellers are not very impressed with the public pools, but you can rent a private room with bath for Y50 for a couple hours if the place is not busy. The private bath is a bit rough, too, and stained red in places from the iron in the water, but it’s just the thing for cleaning yourself off after a day or two at Everest Base Camp.
The hotel makes for a better stop than Tingri. There’s a common room on the 2nd floor with outstanding views, and some pleasant easy walks around the nearby hills. And the hot-spring water, despite the basic setup, is actually very good quality and the perfect temperature for  soaking in'.
Source: Colleen 381.
'Tingri - hot spring'.
Lofty heights
Back in Lhatse county contains the hot spring of Mangpu. On the info.tibet site an extensive report is published on soaking here:
'According to the local people, and their well-known doctors, since ancient times people have visited this place. They believe that the hot spring was formed naturally, and call it the "Integration of Water and Fire." As the name infers, one can cure diseases through therapeutic methods of soaking in, bathing in, and even drinking the hot water. It is believed by local people that many diseases can be cured by the hot spring including; gastric diseases, gallbladder diseases, rheumatism, arthritis, eye problems, high blood pressure and dermatitis just to list a few.
The temperature in Mangpu hot spring is a little high. Accordingly, it is inappropriate to stay too long in the water. Following local customs, people should not put on their clothes immediately after bathing but rather cover themselves in a rug or quilt and lay down for about 15 minutes. By doing so people will sweat greatly, resulting in all kinds of germs or poisons from either inside the body or skin are expelled through the capillary vessels, by which one becomes healthy.
Old Kelsong, our guide, told us of an ancient ballad which spoke of "the Lotus Buddha meditating here with fairies and the Buddha of Longevity informed all that this was a sacred place, which people should visit to get rid of their diseases in the hot spring"'.
En passant the report mentions the height of 4800m making it higher than the claim of the world's highest soak (Yangbajing, see Lhasa chapter) as well as mentioning the existence of the hot spring of Nyidong.

Another possible Shigatse hot spring is Rongbuk according to Benoit Perrault. It possibly beats even Mangpu, 5000m height!

[Updated January 2015] 
(1) refers to the anonymous publication entitled Travel Guide to Tibet of China, published in 2003 by China International Press.

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