One incredible way to enjoy the contradicting twin elements of nature would be a visit to the new upgraded Annah Rais Hot Springs in Kuching, Sarawak. At this little spot in Sarawak, Borneo, I experienced the wonderful sensation of soaking myself in the hot spring pools with the coolness of clear rushing river water right next to these rock pools and set amidst beautiful natural flora and fauna. It was close to paradise on earth!
My friends and I had heard about the upgrading works that had been completed for the hot spring in early 2011 and decided to check the hot spot out. The Annah Rais Hot Spring was located about 70 kilometres from Kuching City, and the countryside drive took nearly two hours where we bypassed the quaint Annah Rais Longhouse, a small native Bidayuh village. Found by early Bidayuh settlers 250 years ago, the hot springs had been guarded and preserved by the villagers since then. It was their belief that the hot spring was a sacred place for them to seek blessings and cures for various illnesses.
Set along a narrow hilly road, the Annah Rais Hot Spring was another ten minutes drive from the Annah Rais Longhouse. Entrance fees to the hot springs were RM5 per adult; and RM3 per child aged 7 and below. The new upgraded facilities of the hot spring included a concrete walkway, steps to the river, and changing rooms and showers, which were important as these would make the hot spring area more comfortable and enjoyable for visitors, like me.
If you are interested in places like Annah Rais Longhouse, please check out our 3D2N Kuching Hot Spring & Annah Rais Longhouse Tour Package.
The other significant improvement was the nice circular rock or granite pools, one big and one smaller, which were built to contain the hot water and to provide proper sitting areas for the enjoyment of the hot springs and its lovely surrounding landscape of bamboo trees and tropical rainforest. We changed into our swimming attire and headed to the bigger rock pool. We had to be careful while navigating our way along the rock pool due to the slippery moss-strewn surface.
Dipping our feet into the water made us realize why it was called a hot spring. The water was hot! Even the sands and stones felt hot. It took a while for me to adjust and get used to the steaming hot water. Temperatures could get as high as 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This natural phenomenon was caused by underground water being heated by geothermal forces and then brought up to the surface to create hot springs. At times, we could also see hot water bubbling up from the bottom of the pool. And when the wind blows, we could smell the sulfur in the air.
Since we went on a weekday afternoon, there were not many people at the Annah Rais Hot Springs and most of them were local visitors, sitting around the rock pools and dangling their legs into the hot springs. The chirping of birds combined with the rippling sounds of the river, enveloped by a lush green forest canopy, created a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere as we infused ourselves with the heat of the hot springs. Watching the drifting white clouds in the crystal blue sky was calming and in that moment, the hectic city life ceased to exist.
As I had mentioned earlier, there were twin elements to the hot springs… the cool flowing river besides the steaming rock pools were an exciting and stimulating contrast. I have heard that alternating hot with cold temperatures could assist to dilate and constrict blood vessels, thereby improving blood circulation. Additionally, a good soak in hot or warm water would go a long way to help relax tense muscles, soothe the body and in turn reduce stress. Doctors had acknowledged that immersing in hot water could speed up the healing process or relieve pain caused by arthritis or minor injuries. It was believed to be therapeutic for insomnia and psoriasis too.
After about an hour of relaxation and fun at the rock pool and river, we decided to call it a day and headed to shower and change. It had been a great trip for us. Annah Rais Hot Springs was still relatively unknown as a tourism destination but this yet to be discovered gem has something simple to offer that to me was most desirable… a place to restore the tired body and rejuvenate the weary mind. So, take a trip to the Annah Rais Hot Springs and pamper yourself to the hilt.