Jul 28, 2007
An hour bus-ride from our Kunming campus is the Anning hot spring region of Yunnan Province. There are many fancy hotels, spas, and resorts there, but we were not there to stay. Kate, my colleague in Kunming, and her boyfriend, Bruce, and I decided to check the area out to see if it was appropriate for our students. Kate and Bruce selected a Japanese-style hot spring garden for us to spend the day. Upon paying our entrance fee--RMB 50 with student IDs (approx. $7)--we were given robes and locker keys. After weaving our way through the nude bodies in the changing rooms, we emerged in the garden in our soaking suits. There, we found pools of every temperature and color nestled harmoniously into a forest-like setting. The various pools were lukewarm to scalding hot and clear to murky white (coconut), antifreeze green (mint), chemical-spill yellow (lemon), and horror-movie pink (rose). There was even a pool of fish of all sizes that were hungry to eat the flesh/dead skin off your feet ... and any other part you were willing to submerge. Finally, there was a conventional swimming pool with cold water and a hot water park, with slides and massage jets. After testing every corner of the Anning hot spring garden, we were prepared to declare it a suitable site to bring our students. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.