Saturday, July 31, 2010

Changbaishan Hot Springs: The Girls

While staying on Changbaishan, at the Tianshang Hotel, we were informed that guests are entitled to bath in the local hot springs pools. After dinner and an evening walk, we got together our bathing suits and headed downstairs, where we expected to see the same setup as the Berkeley Springs and Xi'an mountain springs baths. In both of those locations, the four of us were able to have a room to ourselves with a tub full of hot water.

Our first signal that this was not going to be the same was the two separate doors at the bottom of the stairs, one label nan (men) and the other nv (women). Still willing to check it out, we all turned in our shoes in exchange for locker keys and entered the appropriate doors.

Well, if you are expecting a story, you won't be disappointed, because Mommy and I were greeted with the sight of a bunch of naked women in the shower and bathing room. It was hard to tell how many were there because the walls were covered with mirrors. Mommy and I ran right for the locker room. We debated what to do and laughed about the unexpected dilemma we found ourselves in. We were not prepared to join the nude swimmers, but we did not want to just walk right back out. We chose to put our bathing suits on and see if we could wait the bathers out.

After pacing around for awhile and trying to turn the treadmill on (unsuccessfully), we decided it was time to make a move. While wearing our bathing suits, we walked into a room with three pools and shower heads all over the place. Immediately, all of the women looked up and we pretended to shower off our legs. One woman got out of the pool to leave, but she must have told on us, because the attendant quickly walked in and informed us that we should take our clothes off because it was a woman's bath and no men would come in.

As soon as she left, we made our way to the bathroom for a "secret meeting." Deciding that we would rather "lose face" than swim with a bunch of naked ladies, we got our things from the locker room and traded in the keys for our shoes. The man at the desk commented on how fast we were, and Mommy and I motioned to explain that the water was really hot. He told us that the boys had not come out yet, but we did not want to wait around in case any of the women came out. Instead, we picked up a few overpriced drinks and headed up to the room to await the no-doubt fascinating tale of the events behind the nan door.

~Julie

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