Mon, 07 Feb 2000

Tourism with a massage at Pancuran Tiga resort

By Agus Maryono

PURWOKERTO, Central Java (JP): Pancuran Tiga (better known as Pancuran Telu, or three fountains) is located in the vicinity of the tourist resort of Baturraden, about 14 kilometers north of Banyumas, the regency's capital in Central Java.

As the name suggests, the resort offers three parallel fountains as its main attraction. The fountains deliver sulfur- rich waters from warm subterranean springs (about 50 degrees Celsius). From there, the waters trickle to a pool measuring 3 meters by 6 meters surrounded by walls of natural rocks.

The pool contains the fountain water and is graced by a beautiful natural view. While the air is cool, the water in the pool is warm.

Every day, especially on Sundays and holidays, the resort is crowded with tourists from practically all over the world.

The most popular leisure activity is bathing in the pool of sulfur-rich warm water. If you want to bathe but don't like the crowds around the pool, you can shower in one of the four bathrooms.

Many people believe that bathing in the sulfur-rich water freshens the body and relieves the nerves.

"When I have a headache and stress out and my body aches, I usually come and take a bath here and immediately get well," said Suparno, 34, a visitor from Purwokerto, who visits the facility at least three times a month.

Yuni, 22, a tourist from Surakarta confirmed the healing effects of the Pancuran Tiga fountains. She said she felt revitalized after soaking in the pool.

"It's true," said Yuni, who was on her first visit to the fountains. "I feel light and fresh after I dip myself into the pool."

The visitor is only required to pay an admission fee of Rp 750. Bathing in the pool is free of charge.


Besides bathing in the warm pool, visitors can also enjoy a massage offered by one female and four male masseurs. The massage is done poolside.

"It's a 'reflection message' on the arms and legs only," said Edi, 39, one of the masseurs at the Pancuran Tiga pool.

Edi charged between Rp 5,000 and Rp 10,000 per person. "For normal fatigue, the fare is between Rp 5,000 and Rp 7,000. For specific complaints, it costs Rp 10,000 because it takes more time and caution," he said.

He serves up to seven customers a day, but on busy days, Sundays and holidays, he attends up to 10 visitors. Each massage takes about one hour.

Solidarity among the masseurs is highly regarded. None will monopolize customers.

"Everyone of us needs money to survive and mutual understanding is important," said Riswanto, 35, a masseur.

Women can have a massage by the only woman masseuse.

According to Edi, the masseurs do not pay any tax or levies to the management.

Darwis of the promotion section of the Banyumas Tourism Agency told The Jakarta Post that the number of tourists visiting Pancuran Tiga is stable from year to year.

The most busy days are around the Idul Fitri holiday when the number of visitors soars 500 percent. Data at the office shows that 4,000 people visit the resort every month. The admission ticket costs Rp 750 and is raised to Rp 1,500 during Idul Fitri.

In October last year 3,762 tourists visited the area, and there were 42,000 visitors in seven days during Lebaran, the data shows.

Darwis said Pancuran Tiga is popular among foreign tourists, especially those from the Netherlands.

"Baturraden boasts a great number of buildings from Dutch colonial times. Dutch tourists come here to see their ancestors' legacy," he said.

The management spares special hours for foreign tourists, usually from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. before local tourists arrive. "It's because they (foreign tourists) like bathing naked," said Darwis.

The tourist site needs renovation, Darwis admitted. He said he has repeatedly proposed renovations but there has been no response from the local administration.