Looking for something different to do during the coming weekend? You could try dipping your toes, or even immersing your whole body, into the bubbling hot waters at Sungai Serai Hot Springs, just a short drive outside of Kuala Lumpur.
More than 60 hot springs have so far been discovered in Peninsula Malaysia which seems quite a high number considering that Malaysia falls outside the Ring of Fire and is not prone to volcanic activity or serious earthquakes (touch wood).
These naturally hot groundwaters seep from the earth’s crust via small fractures or faults from deep underground where they are geothermally heated by magma.
During their long journey through the underworld, these spring waters come into contact with various beneficial minerals which, in some cases, are said to imbue therapeutic qualities to the water to soothe sufferers of rheumatism, arthritis, stiff joints and so on.
Some of Malaysia’s hot springs have been turned into health spas such as the luxurious Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat in Ipoh.
Sungai Serai on the other hand, has been left more or less in its natural state and looks like a large puddle with a few plastic chairs placed in it.
The water is hot but bearable, a bit like a bath when you have left the hot tap running for too long. The sources of the water can be identified by bubbles floating up from the bottom and these areas should be avoided as they can scald you.
The colour of the water is a rather unappealing green and you will be forgiven for wondering whether any harmful bacteria is mixed up with the beneficial minerals.
While some people immerse themselves fully in the pond, you may not want to take any risks with your delicate constitution and only submerged yourself up to the knees. Be prepared though to have your feet practically parboiled five minutes later.
The owners of the land on which the spring is located have started charging admission of RM1 per person and another RM1 for parking.
They are using the proceeds to make various “improvements” such as the breeze-block toilet cubicle which unfortunately has been built rather too close to the pond.
Hopefully they won’t encase the whole hot spring in concrete which has happened in so many others in Malaysia.
This article first appeared on thriftytraveller.wordpress.com