Tuesday, August 11, 2015

At a high

Top of the world
What follows are those hot springs located in and around Lhasa, Tibet's capital which were originally in another posting, but changes / changes.

Superlatives are used to describe the hot spring of Yangbajing (or alternatively Yangpachen) located in Doilungdeqen county, 87 km north of Lhasa. And arguably one of Tibet's most well-known.
This in part is due to access; the hi-speed railroad to Lhasa passes here and there is a station, enable dieembakation. Even Micheal Pailin made it here, so why not join in?

The Yangbajing springs are massive and are stated  to be the highest altitude springs in the world.
Included as one of the World's Most Amazing Hot Springs, this site is less direct:
'The Yangbajing hot springs field is at an altitude of 4290–4500 m which makes it the highest altitude set of hot springs in China, and possibly the world'.
(Btw, Conumdrum hot springs (CO) are the highest in North America at 3,400m while Boliva's Termas de Polques hot springs are notched at 4,400 (close ...)).

Others have included Yangbajing as one of the 10 Coolest Places to Swim, which seems a bit odd; though the temperature may be cold, the water is hot.

'Hot spring bath at 4600m'.
By Zuzi Griffiths. Though electricity was won since the 1970's, these pools were only filled in 1998 (1).

The Yangbajing hot springs field is extensive. It apparently covers a large area (40 km2, no less, though wikipedia notes 20-30 km2) and besides including the bathing complex (see photo) and geysers, it is also a source for geothermal energy, enough to sustain half of Lhasa so is learnt. I even managed to find an internet entry on Duoji, claimed to be the expert driving the geothermal power project of Yangbajing.

The uniqueness is further demonstrated with this tale of it's existence (from Magic (!) Tibet:
'It was said that long time ago, before the sky and the earth was separated, the whole world was in total darkness. People living at the foot of Mt. Nyainqntanglha were suffering. One day, a golden phoenix flied to the area, determined to create brightness by sacrificing itself. It threw one of its bright eyes onto the ground. A fairy caught the eye, and then a bright lamp arose in the air. Snow capped peaks of Mt. Nyainqntanglha appeared; grassland like huge carpet emerged; happiness came into Tibetan people. However, a greedy man near Yangbajing coveted the lamp. He took a witch man’s idea to sharpen his hatred into an arrow to shoot the lamp. The lamp was broken then, the pieces of the lamp dropped onto the ground, turning into hot springs and burned the man to his end. People said that the hot springs were the fairy’s tears'.
Rabbit writes on clickandrender an expansive piece on Yangbajing including many photo's.

The aforementioned wikipedia reference mentions that the hot springs bathing site goes by the neme of Holy Medical Spring Resort which
'... has both two indoor swimming pools and one outdoor swimming pool'. 
You dog?
The Dezong hot spring (Maizhokunggar county) contrasts greatly with the prior featured hot spring. 
Devoid of development, the setting is rustic and accompanying this is the fact that it's mostly frequented by locals whose disregard for formal attire provides outsiders (surprise, surprise mostly males) with a carte blanche to highlight their possible ultimate dreams.

For instance, this website states the following:
'The hot spring pool is divided into two zones-male pool and female pool. Though a flaw on the wall separating the pool, nobody would peep for lust-people there are quite pure.
Man and women bathing together with just a low stone wall between Bubbe bath and medical-worth are another TWO characters of Dezong Hot Spring. Somestimes, local pet dogs are lying by the pool 'appreciating' the naked tourists.'
What a load of info. Tibetan's have no lust? Local dogs do? Or do they really appreciate naked tourists?

Tibettravel.org's dogs appreciating?

While discussing Dezong (sometimes spelt as Dezhong), China Service Mall asks the following question:
'Is there anywhere else you can bathe in curative, calcite and tussilago-infused waters while gazing upon the most rugged, photogenic landscapes on the planet?'
That seems a weird question, when there are more than 1000 other similar hot springs and the first randomly chosen hot spring featured on this site acclaims to the same!
They continue with the description of the hot spring:
'The Dezong Hot Springs are arranged in simple, rustic fashion, divided into a men's pool, above, and a women's pool, below. 40° C, jade-colored spring waters cascade 20 meters into the resort's pools'.
There was evidence that bathing in Dezong has been taking place for over 1400 years, which must be something of a record.

One of the more difficult factors when researching hot springs in Tibet is the lack of info foremost and the general confusement concerning the name. Often referred to as Tidrum (or Tirdum, Tridum, Tridom, Dedrom, Drigong) hot spring I believe may well be the same as the above. Pictures though are not conclusive. Experience though in both seems great.

'This is a view from the outside of the hot springs at Tidrum Nunnery'.

'Tidrum Nunnery was home to a hot spring. ...And not just any hot spring. These pools were world class. Gently carbonated, just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, open to the stars—they don’t get much better than that. Joining eight or ten naked, intoning pilgrims, my attitude about the guest house quickly shifted. What at first seemed like a hardship post was in fact heaven.
My springmates stopped chanting long enough to warn me away from the patch of nettles growing along one edge of the pool. One part of me knew I shouldn’t stay too long, but another part was loving it enough to consider settling in until I simply moved on to my next life and could let my body be taken down the road for a proper sky burial.
After about fifteen minutes I looked up at the lone decoration, a framed photograph of a monk. Someone tried explaining the significance of the picture. Or perhaps he was telling me that my formerly white skin was looking lobster-like. I chose to see the one-way conversation as a sign that it was time to go. My sleep wasn’t half bad'.
Elsewhere Tibetwildyakadventures states:
'Concrete free, these hot springs are truly curative and relaxing. Men and women have separate bathrooms for changing. The best part is the fee. If things haven't changed when you go, it's only 5RMB per person to enjoy the hot springs and the nunnery is free. Some nunneries will offer free accommodations in certain circumstances. Whatever you do, don't get rushed by your driver or guide. This is a place to relax, forget about your watch and soak up the healing waters'.
Hillbilly hollar even introduces us to the aspect of professional soakers:
'Many professional soakers from all over Tibet come and stay for days. A room will cost you $5, and if you can't speak the language than it will be an instant noodle night for you. There is plenty of hot water'.
Where does one apply?

The men's pool at Tidrum by Jill and John. Most probably taken by John:
'To me it was just a lovely hot soak on a cool afternoon'.
More recent info, the Shambhala Serai Tirdom hotel recently opened up and describes itself as a spa / hotel:
'Shambhala Source has 18 rooms overlooking the canyon ravine, hot springs and meditation caves. Six “Tantric space suites” are two-story accommodations with a bathroom featuring a hot spring tub on the first floor with seating, and bedroom with private balcony overlooking the ravine on the second floor. Six other rooms are standard size and also feature a hot spring in the bath. Six more rooms have unsurpassed views over the canyon but no hot spring water directly in the room. All guests may use the open hot spring pool which all rooms overlook'.
A tripadvisor review:
'We stayed 2 nights here. It's a beautiful spot in a river gorge and has mens and womens hot spring pools which are great if your are not too modest. Rooms are marginally clean enough and hot water was no problem. Service was weak and no one speaks English. The restaurant food can generously be described as simple but adequate. Not a great place but probably much better than monastery guesthouse alternatives'.
Aerial View
Shambhala by redcapitalbeijing

Xungbara Qu gets one mention, that as a mini-hot spring in Doilungdeqen county (1).
The mini part lies in the lower temperature possibly. However drinking this water cures stomach aches and skin diseases, bathing stops itches. The same single source mentions that the curative qualities of the water has lead to the establishment of a pharmaceutical plant nearby
'... which are making good profits'.
Extensive search resulted in another find, Qusang hot spring of Doilungdeqen county. Or is it Quisang, Qui sang, Qub sang, Qusan or even Chu sang? Possibly the Qu could also refer to the Xungbara Qu of above. Geoinfo adds:
'Qubsang Qucain is a hot spring(s) and is located in Tibet Autonomous Region, China. The estimate terrain elevation above seal level is 4551 metres. Variant forms of spelling for Qubsang Qucain or in other languages: Qubsang Qucain (bo), Qiusang Qucan (zh), 邱桑曲灿 (zh), Qiusang Qucan, Qubsang Qucain, qiu sang qu can, 邱桑曲灿'.
Whatever, I did find this recent web text elaborating on the bathing habits at Qusang:
'Women were all wrapped in thick padded gowns and waiting outside. They just cared about when they could have a bath and paid little heed to us. When it's the time for women to take the baths, and no male are allowed to come into the hot spring. Males and females bathe in 6-hour turns and a bell notifies them when it's time to switch'.
Just one of the three photo's of Qusang hot spring. No subtitle.

The website from which the photo above stems from, has a photo essay entitled
'西藏神奇的裸浴温泉 [Tibet's magic nude bath spa]'
Qusang would be Tibetan for quality water (source) which makes more sense.
Other info includes the fact that this hot spring is only 60 km from Lhasa.

Less info on more springs
Other hot springs in Maizhokunggar county are Paoshang and Riduo. Riduo seems to have certain unknown qualities:
'... is famous for its magic water functions which can improve people's health, beautify skin and adjust blood pressure'
as this website claims. 
But there's more:
'The water temperature at the spring source of Riduo can reach as high as 81C, but in spite of that, there is a harmless little worm living in the water which the locals call "holy worms".
In Rutog village, Maizhokunggar county, one can find the Rutog hot spring!
'[Rutog] is famous for its magic water functions which can improve people's health, beautify skin and adjust blood pressure. Endless visitors and believers come to the hotspring every day for bathing and pilgrim'.
This quote though seems to have partially disappeared from the internet, at least the latter part.
What I did find was that Rutog's springs now are directed to a bottling plant.

Purku hot spring is another hot spring most probably located in Lhasa, the reference at least refers to Nyemo, a county in Lhasa prefecture. This article sums up the hot spring as follows:
'The hot spring is in valley with lofty mountains rising to the sky on both sides. The Yarlung Zangbo River is compressed into a narrow curve at this point. There are many hot springs. On the opposite bank of the river is Tare Village, and there are several hot springs on the cliffs to the west of the village, where villagers have hollowed out several stone pits for people to bathe in winter. Purku Hot Spring is on northern bank of the river with the water temperature of 70 degrees Centigrade, too hot to bathe directly'.
Complete with pictures.
With probably the same hot spring, the book Tibetan Voices: A traditional memoir (Harris, 1996) reference is made of hot springs in Nyemo: 
'In Nyemo there is a very nice river where you could bathe in the winter. Along the banks were some places where you could dig down and the hole would fill up with hot water from an underground spring'.
Thus wraps up this intro to soaking in Tibet and highlighting a few of many of Tibet's hot springs. In the above one must note that the sources used may not always be correct; be it concerning the name of the hot spring or the location.

(1) refers to the anonymous publication entitled Travel Guide to Tibet of China, published in 2003 by China International Press.
Harris, B. (1996) Tibetan Voices: A traditional memoir. Eds: H. Wardle , B. Harris, I. Marrs, C.S. Koller. Pomegranate, San Francisco, U.S.A.