NATURAL hot springs with geothermally heated under-ground water can be found in some parts of Sarawak.
There are two popular sites in Kuching – Annah Rais in upper Puncak Borneo Road and Kampung Panchor Dayak in Serian.
The one at Annah Rais is naturally occurring in the middle of the river while the one in Panchor exists naturally in the middle of a secondary forest.
Both are Nature’s gifts to be treasured.
I relished my time relaxing and letting the mineral-rich water flow into my pores in both hot springs.
I was told by Panchor hot spring staff some people made it a practice to visit at least once a month for their health – and sanity!
Water from the Annah Rais hot spring is a bit clear while that at Panchor appears slightly yellow-brownish or milky.
It has been widely speculated that hot spring waters are laden with sulfur, silica, radium, selenium, boron, magnesium, manganese, lithium, calcium, sodium, potassium, silver and many other minerals.
So far, no studies have been made to detect the presence of dissolved minerals in both hot springs here.
The Annah Rais hot spring, believed discovered about 300 years ago, was open to the public in 2011.
Co-operator Ringin Edo said the early settlers regarded it as a holy place to seek charms and blessings.
“According to my grandfather, long time ago, people who believed in the power of superstition, would go to the place to meditate.
“They would bring some something with them such eggs, bananas, local potatoes, betel leaves and tobacco as offerings to the evil spirit there.
“They would also sing some folk songs to praise the spirit,” the 63-year-old recalled.
Ringin said while meditating – normally between 8pm and 10pm – a person would remain still even if beaten by mosquitoes or other insects, or seeing strange things, animals or snakes passing by before the spirit appeared.
The spirit would then ask the person what he wanted.
“According to my grandfather, in the old days, men liked asking for charms so they could marry the women of their fancy.
“However, more often than not, the spirit would tell them he could not fulfil their wish because he has no power and could do nothing.”
Ringin, a former teacher, also related a story told by his grandfather about an old woman who went to meditate in order to seek help from an evil spirit to heal her eyes.
The woman was almost blind but after the meditation, she could see.
“It was just a story or coincidence – nothing more than that. Or maybe superstition. It’s up to the individual,” Ringin surmised.
However, he pointed out that soaking in a hot mineral spring at Annah Rais could help relieve joint pains.
“If a person has a swollen ankle, he or she can dip it in the bearably hot water three or four times and it may heal. I have tried many times and it worked.”
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