Since I was on a 3 days tour to Annah Rais longhouse recently, I took the opportunity to visit nearby Annah Rais Hot Springs. I awoke rested after my second night at Karum Bidayuh Homestay in Annah Rais. I breakfasted with the usual dose of double-egg omelet and rice and I enjoyed an energizing serving of Sarawak coffee, all kindly prepared by our host Miss Karum whom, while we had our food, she got ready for the drive to the Annah Rais Hot Springs.
I was so glad I had decided to wake up early and make my way to the hot springs: 8 am is such a great time to arrive there. The place was totally empty, the only person there was a gardener, busy trimming the grass and pruning plants in the well taken-care of gardens that run on both sides along the 5 minutes walk from the entrance to the springs. I have heard you can have the place all to yourself during weekdays when there are no locals at the springs. By the ticket counter, unattended yet, there was a coffee shop that looked like it had not been opened for some time.
Down at the site, on a hill platform beside a small river below, there are basic showers and changing rooms, though they look quite unattended and a bit run down, so I would go for the open showers outside the stalls when you need a rinse. The river was very clean with clear crystal water. A cement staircase takes down to the stream where visitors have to wade across cold waters to reach the main pool. This wade can be tricky since the currents can be quite fast and you need to be sure-footed in order to not give in to the waters and to the slippery stones.
I crossed the knee-deep cold water carefully and reached a man-made pool on the opposite side, complete with a wooden platform that serves as a sunbathing area. The weather was fantastic and I changed into my swimming gear, observing worryingly as, from a few points in the depth of the pool water, small springs released boiling bubbles.
I sank into the hot invigorating water, which I reckoned to be about 40degrees, and after a few minutes my body mellowed and I felt like being in another world. I closed my eyes and concentrated deeply in order to bear the light discomfort given by the very hot water. The nature around me was quiet, and only a few sounds could be heard: crickets and the water slowly gurgling down from the small stream below. I relaxed and felt the spring water invigorating and refreshing tired leg muscles. I opened my eyes again and a huge butterfly, showing off her black velvety wings with bright-green features, was flying in circles around my head.
She left only to give way to a couple of red dragonflies that stopped and stalled right in front of my face, still and motionless apart from their fast-beating wings. The area is so beautiful and natural that I really felt at one with nature.
Ten minutes into my dip, I got out and entered the cold river below; my body welcomed this initiative, and I felt so healthy and refreshed, revitalized. After two more of these hot/cold water switches, I stood on top of the wooden decking and did a few rounds of sun-salutation. Yoga was such a pleasure in that peaceful environment.
As more visitors made their way to the pool, we went to check out the small hot spring further downriver, which was right in the middle of the river. The water there was fairly hot, not hot enough to boil or cook an egg, but hot enough to probably burn you a bit. We gave it a pass and went back to the waiting area. Back there, there were lots of people soaking in the pool, and this confirmed the early bird visit was a good idea!
It is interesting to know that the pools were built by the local community and are at the service of visitors. You must bring your own food for picnics near the river and meals; do come prepared as the nearest food outlet is a long way off. The ticket attendant at the entrance sells soft drinks.
At the Annah Rais Hot Springs there is no info on water temperature, advised bathing times and benefits of the hot waters. There is instead a board telling you that you swim at your own risk. Be advised that you need to check the water temperature before dipping in, and that you should keep the dipping sessions to a maximum of 10 minutes each, alternating them with a shorter dip into the cool water river below or a cold shower. Before you leave Annah Rais Hot Springs, please keep the place clean by throwing your rubbish into the rubbish bins provided.
Located the Padawan District, Annah Rais Hot Springs are a 1-hour scenic drive from Kuching city along the way to Borneo Highlands Resort, and just 3 km from Annah Rais village, which makes them easily reachable on foot or by bicycle. Entrance ticket is 5 Rm each.
Asian Itinerary stayed at the Karum Bidayuh Homestay. For information and bookings, contact Miss Karum or Jenny at Karum Bidayuh Homestay, tel. (+60) 0168981675, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or check their website at www.longhouseinborneo.com