Monday, May 24, 2010

On the divide

Where does it end?
The other prefectures in the mountainous section of Sichuan hugging the Tibetan plateau which I feel compelled in more detail to cover are
Ngawa autonomous prefecture (sometimes referred to as Aba) and Panzihua prefecture level city.

That said there can be a case be made to extend the listing of hot springs.
Sichuan is certainly an example of a province which significantly lies on the edge of what in geological terms can be called the Tibetan plateau as well as socially on the edge between those cultures associated with the Tibet plateau and those not so.

Sichuan province is one of China's most densely populated so beyond the prefectures described in a previous posting, it's no surprise to observe that most hot springs have been privatized and (re-)developed. Shockingly not all in good taste.

All together
But let's start of with one of those lesser developed areas. Northeastern Sichuan's Ngawa is still part of the rugged mountainous part of Sichuan. It was the epicenter of the 2008 devastating Sichuan earthquake.

Zoigê (Ruo'ergai) district (north Ngawa)
holds the hot spring of Jiangzha (Jiangza):
'Every spring and autumn, thousands of people from Tibetan area in Sichuan, Gansu, and Qinghai province will gather together to have a bath in the hot-spring. It is a custom that men and women bath together in the hot spring'.
That said this blogger on Myspace once mentioned:
'Dirty hot spring pool under the pavilion'.
From the youduo site: Jiangzha hot spring. The website notes the following translated sentence:
'After hundreds of years of practice has proved Jiangzha spa for skin diseases, arthritis, rheumatism, cancer, stomach problems, such as a significant effect'.
How hot is a hot spring?
Furthermore in Ngawa is another much visited hot spring, the hot spring of Erdaohai (Munigou), north of Wenchuan (county?). It is most probably in Songpan county. 

Though much visited, many wanna be soakers have been put off due to the low temperatures. The hot spring is to be found after a two hour trek along Munigou lake. This visitor was seriously let down (as I am by the now defunct link!):
'... that is if it can be called a hotspring. The water here would have been too cold to drink'.
Others describe them as:
  • 'not very hot (source:error 404!)',
  • 'the coldest one I ever saw (source: link not found!)',
  • Where it gets off being called a hot spring is beyond me since it is actually darn cold at only 21 degrees (source)',
  • 'The water isn't warm at all!! (source)' and
  • 'frigid (source)'.
However there may be more compelling reasons (link removed)to visit here:
'hot spring with the legend that fairies from the heaven once bathed there. The temperature of its water is about 25ºC with a strong smell of sulfur. People like to bath here to cure or prevent skin disease'.

Elsewhere in Ngawa (Lixian county), one can find the hot spring of Gurgou (Gu'ergou). Gurgou is famous for it's hot spring, the
best in Tibet (?). This site provides more info:
'The Gurgou Holy Peak Hot Spring, assessed as a famous spring of quality water in Sichuan Province, is 230 km from Chengdu. The water temperature of the hot spring is 60 and its daily flow is 3000 tons.The spring contains 17 trace elements such as lihtium, strontium fluorine, zine, selenium and germanium which are good for human health,being the only one natural hot mineral spring integrating the bathing, curing and drink functions so far found in Sichuan at the present'.
This website provides a short overview to the 5 most popular hot springs around Chengdu, Sichuan's provincial capital. In reality it's an overview of the better accommodation boasting their own soaks.

, Dayi county which is part of Sichuan's capital Chengdu prefecture (and only 85 km from the city center) has a hot spring area which seems quite popular in combination with the nearby skiing area of Xiling. More info on this hot spring can be found here. As an investment project. As winner of the UN Habitat award (link gone). As having 21 hot spring pools, I was lead to believe. 
Tripadvisor in it's Huashuiwan hotel overview mentions 6 hotels with hot spring in their name.

'#hotspring  #huashuiwan  #relax  #hometown  #dayi'
Nearby, Tianfu Hot Spring Hotel in the 'development zone' of Zhougong (near Ya'an) is known as the no. 1 Sichuan hot spring. The hotel is also known as Dream Hot Spring Hotel according to Tripadvisor. However when looking into the overview of hotels in Xingzi county, one counts 6 hotels with hot spring facilities.


Closer to Chengdu is the hot spring of Wenjiang (or the Yufu Hot Spring Hotel). It apparently incorporates
'50 types of indoor and outdoor hot spring pools'.
This hotel should not be confused with Wen Jinjiang Hot Spring Hotel which is located in Chongzhou district.
Leaving Chengdu
Further away from Chengdu in northeast direction is the hot spring of
Mianzhou in Mianyang city. It comprises of pools and a hotel, both of which claim to be the biggest indoor hot spring facility in China's southwest. Tripadvisor's rankings are quite good, though little info on the soaks them selves.

Thirty km's from Mianzhou is another hot spring hotel named

Near the so-called West Grand Canyon, south Sichuan, a number of hot springs can be found. Two to three kms away from Yibin is Guandou hot spring. The hot spring is said to be able to accommodate 800 visitors. For a pre-war photo go to verfainverfain's Flickr site.
Further away from Yibin (30 km) is the hot spring of Shifu or alternatively known as the hot spring hotel of
West Grand Canyon (or Xibu Daxiagu) (see Tripadvisor). It's discharge is 8000 sq. cum. which ranks top in China. No less than 3000 people can soak here.

Finally, due south of Chengdu is arguably what is regarded as one of China's best hot springs, E'mei. That said there are actually three hot springs near E'mei. These are Lingxiu, Hongzhu and Yoga hot springs. Yoga hot spring is a resort which offers ... yoga! Probably this doubles up under the name of E'mei Hot Spring Hotel. Lingxiu though is more well known (see here f.i.). Australia's Sydney Morning Herald notes the Dr. Fish treatment in Hongzhu. As well as offering soaks it also is a 5 star hotel, Tripadvisor reviews.Down Sichuan's south
Then near Panzhihua
city close to the border with Yunnan one can visit the hot spring of Hongge. Despite the town having a tradition of industrialization and mining without borders, the nearby Hongge hot spring has been swept up in a development called Holiday Inn Panzhihua, aimed at promoting tourism. The development covers an area of more than four km2 and is
'designed planned according to high standards by the Japanese hot spring experts'.
Not many people are attracted to Panzhihua, though this couple express their satisfaction (in Dutch) concerning the hot spring.
Caution? By Wubbo Womb.

Goodbye Sichuan

Then there is the Happy Valley hot spring which though mentioned here and there, it is probably just a gimmick for another hot spring with a less inspiring name ...

Again in all quite a few soaks, but none which you would denominate as a great soak. Then again it does seem that the more price-ier options provide the better facilities.

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