Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thermophiles challenged

Directing development
Directing funds to tourist adventures sometimes leads to strange situations. Raksarawin hot spring of Ranong, Thailand, is an example of incessant funding, in this case leading it to be a tourism highlight. However, just down the road, Phu Lum Phi hot spring is left forlorn and undeveloped.

Untouched it's not, as there is evidence that some money might have flown here in the past. But as is very common in Southeast Asia the development was overestimated and whatever was dreamed of, didn't materialize. 

It would be interesting to see why some hot spring sites seem not to be too worried about financial inflows (for investment purpose's) whereas others are starved. Failure to adhere, initiate, political patronage?

Internet fails to shed some light on this hot spring, an odd case, as Ranong is synonymous with hot spring, note the singular use of the term.

Situated just off Ranong's major highway heading south, it is about 6 km from the city center on the inland side of the road. A blink and you will miss the turnoff (and signboard). Up this road it's only a km or so before one comes to a large grassfield with some scattered buildings around.

It is late afternoon and what seems like a pond has a few locals hanging around. Apparently some have just finished their bath, others have waited their turn (= joke). Other than these half dozen soakers there is not much to proof that this place is located near one of Thailands most visited hot springs. 

In front of us is a circular pool, to the right a toilet block with behind it a solid locked building. A fair walk away over the grassy field are some sala's while to the left are some more buildings without intention (?).

The toilet block functions as changing room. Local custom then implores one to squat around the hot pond and scoop water over oneself shower style. Oh and do remain dressed. Having a bucket give's the showeree (what's a soaker who only showers called?) the ability to let the hot water cool down before immersing oneself.

Getting there: Take the major highway south out of Ranong town and pay attention to tiny blue signboards along the road heading inland. Roughly 5-6 km outwards there's a small road which heads around a to be developed plot and heads into some secondary growth and straight close to the hot spring.

Soaking experience: A soak in the general sense is not to be had, a bak mandi (large scoop) enables a shower of sorts. Different but not necessarily rewarding.

Overall impression: A very rustic, down to earth place. The lack of development and visitors gives it an extra cachet, but in all honesty a visit here is only for thermophiles and even they might be challenged.

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