Christmas Day Shenanigans
For 23 years I have sat on Christmas morning and opened Christmas presents with my parents. This Christmas was to be no different…well, that’s a lie. It was the most bizzare Christmas ever…

The opening Christmas presents with parents bit went as usual, kinda. As you can see above, me and B woke up at 0800hrs China-time, 0000hrs GMT to spend Christmas morning with the folks.

Christmas Day Shenanigans
The living room was the usual Christmas mess of presents; opened and unopened.

Christmas Day Shenanigans
Two cuties! 🙂

But, it was in the afternoon that things got really interesting. We (Myself, Rudy – The Frenchman, Chelsea – My Yanky colleague and Eugene – Rudy’s Chinese friend) all headed to the Huaqing Aegean Hot Springs. Now, I’ve heard these talked about before, and I was expecting it to be a hole in the middle of a field, with a geyser nearby filling the hole with hot water, boy was I wrong.
So, it’s Christmas day, and after a 30minute taxi ride (and some confusion with the taxi driver as to our destination) it became evident we were reaching the hot springs. Entering the facility we were greeted by a water-wheel with water spinning it around, it was all very picturesque…even the icicles!!!! It was a COLD day, air temperature hovering between the 0-2’c mark. What had we let ourselves in for?
Anyway, upon reaching the entrance, I realised my expectations were wrong. I entered the lobby, which was comparable to any of the five star hotels I’ve stayed in and the cars in the car park were all worth a pretty penny. So much for my hole in a field theory.

The following are a bunch of photos plagiarised from the internet. 🙂

Hot springs photo for blog
The entrance and lobby.

Christmas Day Shenanigans
However, it was home to this huuuuge Christmas tree when we went.

Hot springs photo for blog

Hot springs photo for blog

Hot springs photo for blog

Hot springs photo for blog

Hot springs photo for blog

Hot springs photo for blog

Anyway, back to the story. So, after checking in myself and Rudy went into the marble-clad men’s changing rooms, staff everywhere to take care of everything. One to take your shoes, one to put your shoes on the wall, one to give you your flip flops, one to give you a towel, one to give you a key, one to point you to your locker, one to open your locker for you, and so on, and so on. Kitted out in our speedos (western-style loose-fitting shorts don’t exist in China) and feeling good to go, we headed to the exit of the changing room, to the outdoor hot springs. We stepped outside and our confidence (amongst other things) shrank! It. Was. FREEZING! Again, outside there were a thousand staff on every corner of every pathway, but the amazing thing was, they were wearing full-on artic survival gear, thick, wind-proof coats and boots… even Santa hats! and there we were. Flip flops and speedos. Needless to say we made a beeline for the nearest source of the numerous clouds of steam we could see. Employees were speaking at us in Chinese, but we just knew we needed warmth! We threw off our flip flops, and dripped a toe in to gauge the temperature.


So here were are, our bodies freezing and our feet scalded. Rock and a hard place. After a few moments of “ooh”ing and “arh”ing, we took the plunge and slipped into the water.
Now joined by the girls (and part of our motivation to stop looking like such wimps and get in the water!) we all submerged ourselves in the 38’c water and let our a stereo sigh. Partly to acknowledge the pain of the boiling water on our freezing skin, and partly in celebration of our new found warmth.
It was at this moment of bliss that I finally had the chance to relax and appreciate my surroundings. It was picturesque (the above photos I don’t think do it justice, but I had no pockets for my camera. :P) The steam rolling off the water was immense and I could feel my body sweating under the water. It’s at this point that the tables seemed to have turned. Now, the employees looked freezing cold as they all bounced up and down on the spot in a vein attempt to stay warm.
After enjoying this plain pool for a while, we went on the hunt for food. None of us had eaten Christmas lunch, so we went into the restaurant there and ordered some food. We were told it would be 20minutes, so we went to explore some of the other springs/pools. Rudy (a veteran of the establishment) insisted we went to the “fishy pool” – Hmm. The translated sign informed me the pool was full of “Turkish kissing fish” and they’d delicately eat the dead skin from my body.

That pool was home to JAWS himself!!!!!
Okay, apparently I’m being a big girl and exaggerating. No, in fact the pool was full of small grey fish, approximately 4-8cm in length. I obeyed instructions and sat still in the pool. The first fish bit me. I have to apologise to that fish. He got a bit of a kick in the face. I also have to apologise to my fellow pool occupants. They got a high-pitched squeal, finally I have to apologise to myself; I lost what dignity I had. The sensation was not enjoyable. I hate static electricity shocks, and I’d say this was comparable. Not necessarily in the feeling, but in the apprehension, and the uncontrollable reaction I had to it. It was like trying not to blink when someone throws something at your face. I just couldn’t keep still. For a moment I managed to sit still, to the point where 3-4 of them had started nibbling, but then the ticklishness set in. Nope, I just couldn’t do it. I started rhythmically moving my feet to deter them. This worked.
Meanwhile, Chelsea was having an experience similar to mine, but Rudy and Eugene were loving it. As you stay still, more and more fish come, and start nibbling away. After they dispose of the dead skin of your feet, they move onto your ankles, then legs, and so on. (This is where the tight-fitting speedos are a good thing.) Rudy’s legs resembled two docks or piers with dozens of fish “boats” harboured at them. Back in my side of the pool, my leg kicking was proving good exercise. However, a floor in my plan was unveiled when I felt a nibble on my back! Now, full-body movement was required.
Eventually myself and Chelsea gave up, and went back to the “Boring” first pool. After a few minutes here, we rendezvoused with the others for food. I devoured a burger (Christmas dinner; a crazy Cheeseburger in a Chinese hot spring spa restaurant! Didn’t even slightly live up to the feast my mother, auntie and sister usually cook up.) After this, we went to the “flavoured” pools. These were the usual bumpf of aromatherapy and blah blah blah; but, they were interesting. We spent about 15minutes in each of the 5 or so pools and then had to head back home.

Back in Weinan I had to teach English corner. It was pretty goofy, we just sang Christmas carols with the kids and stuff. It was a little depressing working on Christmas day. After this, we headed to McDonalds. Again, great food for Christmas, right? Anyway, outside McDonalds I spotted this:

A Cow outside McDonlands
Yes, that’s a cow outside McDonalds.

Like I said, It was a “different” Christmas!

Merry Christmas one and all. A big “thank you” from me and B for all our cards and pressies; they really made me feel more at home, and helped introduce B to a propper, western Christmas. 🙂

Leave a comment

No Comments to “Christmas Day 2009 – A different kind of Christmas…”  

  1. No Comments

Leave a Reply