I really like the perks of working at an international kindergarten. Tuition fees are pretty high so the administrators can afford to keep the teachers happy with gifts sometimes.
Last weekend I got an all expenses paid trip to a hot spring resort nearby Tianmu Lake. I’ve never been to hot springs before , let alone a hot spring resort and wow it was awesome. I can’t believe I’ve gone some 23 years without this experience. Needless to say , it will be a reoccurring thing.
A three-hour bus ride took us to the springs. I went with all the staff and teachers of my kindergarten. It could have been awkward since I’m the only foreign teacher as well as the only male teacher but things turned out great.
I had to earn my keep and after falling asleep on the 7:30am departing bus ( arghh Saturday 6:15 wake-ups!!) , I was woken up to entertain by speaking in Chinese to the bus full of coworkers , sing a song in Chinese , and finally to say naughty things in Shanghainese that I didn’t understand but reduced everyone to insane fits of laughter on the bus. Such is the life of a foreigner in China , good for a laugh.
If you ever find yourself nearby the city of Changzhou in Jiangsu Province or need an escape from the hectic city life of Shanghai go to the Tianmu Lake Yushui Hot Spring Holiday Resort. The resort has a villa area , hotel , shopping , sports , hot springs , swimming pool , and massage therapy centers. No need to leave the resort. Damn! We just made our way into the hot springs area. Upon entry you receive a waterproof wristband which activates your locker and can record any additional charges you may receive , too annoying to carry paper money around in a bathing suit. After this make your way to the changing rooms , grab a towel and bathrobe , and then find those hot springs!
The springs themselves are set within a relaxing environment of stone paths , lush bamboo forests , with a stream , and a view of the verdant Southern mountains. Over 50 individual pools are available so there should be plenty for everyone. Not every pool is the same though with a wide variety ranging from ginger infused waters , small romantic pools , huge pools for a ton of people , pools with small wooden cups with handles so you can pour water on yourself , and my favorite pool of all, the kissing fish pool!
As soon as I found it I had to do it. I’d always heard about these things but had never gotten to experience it. You sit in the hot spring pool and there are hundreds of little “Turkish kissing fish” that swarm around the pool. They are attracted to the dead skin cells on the body and after sitting down and relaxing (movement will scare them away) the fish will gather around and start nipping the dead cells off. They mainly buzz around the feet but a few adventurous ones will make their way up your legs , go for the chest , and arms. It is a bit unsettling at first seeing all these fish ( think piranhas!) and feeling the number of nibbles increase as the cloud of fish around you gets larger, darker, and you lose sight of your feet in the school of fish. Once you get used to it the feeling is quite nice and if you want a little break just move your legs around a bit and the fish scatter.
Sit in one pool for a little while , get up and enjoy the sensation of the cool mountain airs hitting your wrinkly flesh , and then grab a cup from the complimentary tea stands set up around the area . One stand had orange peel tea , another had pomelo honey tea . Ohh yeeaa.
Being in only foreigner there you will most likely strike up a few conversations (if you can speak Chinese) and will certainly draw some attention , but it’s all fun. That day the springs were loaded with Shanghainese kicking back and relaxing. It seemed that everyone I overheard was speaking the Shanghai dialect.
If you tire of soaking in the springs then you can wander over to the saunas , get a message , chinese hot cup treatment , acupuncture , they have it all set up!
Most of all just relax and enjoy the bikini eye candy alongside with the bulging stomachs of the fat, middle-aged , salarymen!
This resort is located very close to Tianmu Lake , and settled along the NanShan (Southern Mountain) range. A weekend could easily be spent boating in the lake , hiking the mountains , and then relaxing in the springs. I didn’t get to see these attractions this time but they give me further reason for a return trip in the future!
Here is a link I found detailing the 10 best hot springs for winter time (Yishui is #2!)