Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blind faith in back to nature?

As well as being provincial capital Chongqing was formerly a part of Sichuan province.

It is said that Chongqing is famous for it's hot springs:
'There are dozens of them located throughout the city. The water temperatures at them are kept at 35-37 degrees Celsius (95-98 degrees Fahrenheit). People have been coming to Chongqing for centuries to visit the local hot springs due to the high mineral content of the waters. It is said that the alkali minerals found in the waters have beneficial medicinal properties, which are said to be effective in curing arthritis, and skin diseases'.
This website mentions that in 2012 Chongqing was awarded the accolade 
‘Global Capital of Hot Springs’,
whatever that means. The award was given by the 65th General Assembly and World Scientific Congress of FEMTEC which I have never heard of. Apparently it might stand of Federation for Hydrotherapy and Climatotherapy

With dozens of them located within the confines of the city we can't expect very natural conditions and that's not the reason I've decided to include these hot springs in this blog. After reading you'll know ...

As well as there being so many located close to the city, the locals also have problems in giving them names and as such we end up with the hot springs of the four wind directions.

Info on the North hot spring:
'There are ten springs altogether in the park and the temperature of the water is a constant 35-37 degrees C. The water contains alkali minerals that are considered as having beneficial medicinal properties. The warm water offers an excellent way to relax from the stresses of day to day existence and it also benefits those who suffer from skin problems, arthritis and many other common ailments. Apart from a standard swimming pool there are 75 indoor bathrooms, a newly built triangular indoor swimming pool and a play pool for children'.
Elsewhere we understand that the hot springs here have a tradition of more than 1600 years.

The North hot springs form part of Beibei district. 
Since mid-2013 Banyan Tree have a hot spring resort here:
'Located within the Banyan Tree Spa Chongqing Beibei, there are separate indoor hot spring baths for male and female guests, while the outdoor hot spring pool offers a unique bathing experience'.
There is also another contender in the upmarket area of the northern spring, Brilliant Resort & Spa. Flowery images of the springs are to be found on the website of photographer Micheal Freeman:

Elsewhere there is the Haiyu hot spring hotel, tripadvisor giving it four stars.

South & Central
Info on Chongqing's South hot spring.
'The Southern Hot Springs Park has about 110 bathrooms and three swimming pools - outdoor and indoor swimming pools with one for children. The hot springs contain abundant minerals and taking a hot spring bath can rejuvenate body metabolism and cure some diseases, such as those of the skin, arthritis and rheumatism'.

Info on Chongqing Central hot spring is a lot sparser, in fact there's just one mention.

Tongliang is the name given to the western hot spring(s?). The hot springs are
'... located at Xiquan Town, twenty kilometers south of Tongliang county . ... As early as the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), the poet Meng Huai wrote a few lines in admiration of the spring'.
Nice pic, but what's the subscript mention?
'@chongqing's XX spring
wiz rachel
infact,the water was cold and dirty that day'.
By Ruby's illusion

Back to nature?
is the name given to
the hot spring otherwise known as the East hot spring.  

Ba'nan district seems hold a different tradition to most hot springs, certainly in China. Since 2008, Ba'nan organizes hot spring festivals, though it's unsure what this actually entails. They must be pretty desperate because that years issue was reported as follows:
'The 2nd edition of the « Ba'nan Hot Springs Tourism Cultural Festival » near Chongqing has opened on monday. The organizers invited eight pretty models to celebrate the back-to-nature theme by bathing naked...'.
It's unclear whether this was a poor attempt to gain coverage or reflects the reality of soaking here.
However, in the 'Getting Naked: Nudism in China' article, published in 2010, Ba'nan hot spring merits this paragraph:
'... in Sichuan Province, nudism seems to be all the rage. Chongqing Girls Nude Bathing Area sounds more like the title of a dodgy DVD, but it’s actually an area set aside for women in the Ba’nan District’s tranquil East Spring Village. The pool has been in use since the Ming Dynasty, and its water is said to cure blindness. If you fancy a dip, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s open to tourists. Female ones'.
Why only females beats me. Despite this often referred to article, there seems little or none other proof that this practice really exists.

That was until I found this Chinese language website which refers to the Eastern / Ba'nan hot spring and provides photographic proof both of the men and the women's baths:

Stemming from the same period (Nov. 2011), this Chinese language website notes that due to a variety of reasons the hot springs were closed, but locals still took the waters by climbing over the fence. It also suggests more idyllic bathing:


Many more references to al-fresco bathing in Chongqing, f.i. this from the soakingspirit tumblr, which gives an insight into the history of the site, apparently it became famous after curing blindness.

Big plans are underway for this set of springs, though the development report is chaotic.

Elsewhere in Ba'nan district there is the New Orient Hot Spring Hotel which tripadvisor gives a meagre 3 and a half star. And the Sunshine Hot Spring Resort (tripadvisor unrated), while those who favour dong as in Dong Hot Spring Scenic resort may wish to stay there, tripadvisor: 4 stars

Ordinary people
Then there are hot springs in
Tongjing, Yubei district not one of the four wind direction hot springs.
'Tongjing Hot Spring is world famous, hailed as the best hot springs in China'.
Whether this accolade fits the reality or not, plans are under way to re-open these already sprawling facilities in 2014:
'It is expected to become the most beautiful scenic area featuring a hot spring in west China and also the first 5A hot spring tourist attraction in Chongqing.
Unlike some scenic areas, the price is affirmed to be affordable for ordinary people after transformation and will not rise significantly'.
Other hot springs are
The Beidiyiyuan, Jiulongpo District (mention) is often shortened to Beity. Tripadvisor rates this resort as 4,5 stars, though it seems more focus is on the hotel part. Not all is well though?
'hotel is truly 5* nice nice room with special hot spring bath tub included downside to many light switches approx. 14 of them in the room to manage them insane'.
Also located in Jiulongpo district is the  Sun Kingdom Hot Spring Golf Club (source), which is very much a golfing hotel with little or no reference to a hot spring.

Then there is the Tianci Hot Spring resort, more info can be obtained from this website. Tripadvisor give it 4 and a half stars.

Haitangxiaoyue sometimes referred to as Ronghui are said to be Chongqings best urban hot springs. Having 32 pools source Tripadvisor notes 5 stars for this resort complex. Though search for Ronghui and the rating drops!
'This place blows away any spa we’ve been to in the U.S.! It was huge with tons of different types of pools, including wine, green tea, milk, and more. You could easily spend a whole day here, and for two of us it was about $55 U.S.! If we had more time I definitely would have taken advantage of a massage, which was something like 168 rmb ($27 U.S.). Everything was co-ed, so swimsuits were required'.