Thursday, June 16, 2011


Fringe culture
While highlighting the hotter soaks of the Himalaya one will always come up to the fringe of what should or shouldn't be included. On the one hand I am very much inclusive, on the other hand it's by no means my intention to provide background to all of Asia's hot springs. Well that's what I thought back in 2011 ...

Gansu province, north west of the Tibetan plateau forms one such fringe. It being on the cross roads to the steppes to the north, the Gobi to the west and China proper to the east. With this information it's quite difficult to discern what would belong to a hot soak of the Himal and what not.

Anyway an ultimate soak is a soak in natural scenery irrespective of geography, administrative division and social culture: a good soak may well be in the middle of a desert or a city for instance.

Gansu province is probably a less visited province and as such less well-known. However it contains a highly diverse geography as well as rich culture.

Not really famous for it's hot springs, there are though quite a few, some still untouched by 'progress'.

That said the Tianyuan Hot Spring Hotel in the province's capital of Lanzhou is not one of them. Looking like anything but a natural soak, the reviews on tripadvisor are not too bad. However the existence of a hot spring does not seem to be the reason why reviewers add their opinion of this hotel.

Tianshui environs
Another city, Tianshui, is noted for the many hot springs around the city (source), while Chinatravel describes the area as having
'abundant geothermic hot springs'.!
Among the hot springs near Tianshui are Mapao (just the single source), Maiji, Qingshui (references for both, see Chinatravel, above), Jieting, Baisha (source) and Wushan. As ever it could just be a single hot spring with many different names.

Jieting (or Maijishan) hot spring are referred to as having 19 kinds of chemical trace elements and the
'first choice for treatment, leisure and holiday'.
There are some photo's of a not so appealing Wushan hot spring. More info can be found here:
'Wushan Hot Spring lies on the Wenqian village thirty kilometers southeast to the urban area of Tianshui. It is referred to as a mineral spring. The spring enjoys an outsized total area with eleven spring mouths and 700 plenty of water volume every day. The spring is of recent water and therefore the water temperature is from 38℃ to 40℃'.
Warm spring
North of Tianshui is the prefecture of Pingliang. Jianchuan is the place to take the waters here. However it may be disputed whether or not the soaks here are hot. The site once used to reveal that the spring at the source of the Liuhu is only 17 degrees, which in winter can be regarded as tepid, otherwise that's nice and cool. The info continues and refers to Zuo Zongtang adding an inscription near the springs entitled 'Nuanquan', warm spring. Chinatravel adds:
'The surroundings is gracious, beautiful, convenient, and informative. The hot spring is explored in 1971, with a constant temperature 38.2℃ all around the year. It has 13 active microelements. Having bath in hot spring can keep the human body clean and moist, and has health-care functions including accelerate blood circulation, practice the cardiac muscle, protect the heart, help digestion, get rid of fatigue, heal cardiac vein and skin diseases'.
Unfortunately the web search also revealed mentions of unveiled greed:
'There are about 1,190 million cubic meters of underground water and a hot spring 10 km to the west whose temperature is between 30 to 36 degrees centigrade; both of them are just waiting for exploitation'.
To freak or not
In Gannan autonomous prefecture, a tremendously mountainous area wedged into Qinghai province one can find the hot spring of Zhajiang (or Jiang Zha) located in Luqu county. Also referred to by the name of the nearby Buddhist monastery of Langmu.

Langmu hot springs, blogged by Nswink13:
'There were two hot springs. We weren't going to get in because we didn't have our bathing suites, but we allowed our bras and underwear to suffice. This was the only photo we took since most of the women in the water were totally naked.
Sitting in these hot springs are supposed to be really good for your skin. It was neat to sit right by the mountain where the water flowed out from. It was so hot I was sweating. It felt like a scorching bathtub. We had been in a hot spring in Yanshou earlier on in the vacation; however, after experiencing this one, I am pretty sure that one was fake. They were more like hot tubs'.
The poorly reachable hot springs (this Chinese website mentions more than 40) has saved it from both heavy development as well as social mainstreaming. Hattie25 describes a visit to the place and was 'surprised':
'As we stepped into the females’, the wet warm airflow embraced us immediately. Lots of naked local Tibetan females with their children were sitting down the bottom of square pool silently, water could only immerge an adult’s instep, My godness! This is the famous hot spring of local’s legend? Really freaks me out!'.
That's what traveling is all about, finding and experiencing new things (well what's new about this?) without being biased.

'Jiang Zha hot spring, you dare to in?'
(source, non working)

Anyway is you can observe the hot springs are rustic and cut into a cliff face. And one not need to be schocked as there are also other soaking places. mentions (with photographic evidence) that the indoor pools are not quite clean.

Restore Function
Nearby, in Dingxi prefecture Tongwei hot spring
is known as Gansu's province's sacred spring. Elsewhere it was (link has gone) mentioned that:
'The hot spring water is natural mineral water with abundant fluorine, silicon and radon. The spring water can promote one's appetite and supply the necessary microelements in the human body.
It can also help cure one's chronic gastritis and enteritis, improve the metabolic process in human body and prevent premature senility. Therefore, the spring water is also called "youth mineral water"'.
Not bad? Source translated:
'Long went to the location on the Shinsen --- Tongwei, about 2.5 hours away, all the way to enjoy the beautiful rural scenery, the fresh feeling of nature, while the hot springs to relax tired mind and body. Shinsen is comfortable in the bath to enjoy, you can make the skin shiny and smooth, fit and healthy. When the temperature is 34-36 ℃, the nervous system has a significant sedative effect,37-39 ℃, the increase in gastric secretion, gastric motility to enhance, accelerate blood circulation. 42-44 ℃ when the strong sweating, excretion of metabolites, co-ordinating body to restore function, absorption of various trace elements beneficial to humans'.

Updated May 2014

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