When inquiring about Daqin Hot Spring (Dàqín wèi guāng) most people had no idea what I am talking about. To be fair neither did I. My friend Carol was excited to show me the "new hot spring" in Xi'an. She has been a great friend and has helped me adjust to living in China.
Naturally I though we would get on a train or bus and head towards the mountains but that was not the case. We hopped on Subway line 1 to the Sanquio stop and took exit B. A ten minute ride through what is considered "car city of Xi'an" we were dropped at the gates of a large complex surrounded by greenery and smiling faces. Sanquio Car City is where are the car lots are centralized so whatever you are looking for you could find it here. Porsche, Jeep, BMW, Audi, Range Rover, Benz whatever. The car lots stretched forever.
Daqin was built as a short resort and conference centre. You can find information about the hotel on Booking but reservations are for Mainland Chinese which is not uncommon. You can access the spa area without any ID which is not common here. I only paid 125Y (C$26) per person which was discounted because they were still giving Spring Festival discounts.
First things first, coffee. Good coffee is not hard to find here. There are Starbucks, Cafe Bene and Pacific coffee houses. However, like most western brands, it is expensive. A small black coffee is usually about $5 and a large $6 but whatever, I usually spend $10 a day on food and I am not getting any thinner because of it.
There are 56 various pools that included red wine, white wine, baijiu (white Chinese liquor), aloe, vitamin C, milk (which looked disgusting) fruit and just plain old fashioned water. Each pool was surrounded by greener and relatively secluded. There were towel racks at the entrance to each spa on the foot path so people would know it was occupied. I know where your mind just went and no we didn't. Naturally she looks much better in a bathing suit than I do.
When you spend 6 hours splashing around in a hot spring soaking up the various "added ingredients" and then finish the day with a long sweat in a dry sauna you get hungry regardless of the fact you had drunk a couple litres of water. We figured we would take a taxi back to the subway and see what was in the area. Outside the subway were various restaurants but the thought of sitting down to a meal was not appealing so the hunt for street food was on.
In a matter of minutes we came across a "snack street" that even got Carol excited. The great thing for me was that there were snacks that I had not seen before. It started with a cooked cabbage stuffed bun then cooked spicy rice noodles. Pineapple season is just starting so topped off our street binge by eating half a pineapple that was cut and ready to go from a local street vendor. It was sweet and glorious. I like pineapple season.
This "hot spring" is by no means a natural volcanic experience. This 30 minute subway ride away from the downtown is all that is needed to experience a bit of quiet is a rare feat in a country of 1.3 billion people. You should go if only to soak in a Red Wine Pool. There is a good chance you will be the only western foreigner in the entire area.
A final gift from Daqin. I have come across so many signs with horrible English translations, not only in China but all over the world. This sign jumps to the front of the line for creative silliness. The English translation is not great but its the use of Spanish for the word "tourists" that quickly jumped out at me. I think someones was clicking their mobile phone translator a bit to fast and did not check the language settings.
China is busy, always busy. Finding Daqin was a small victory to recharge from the madness. Knowing I will be hiking in Nepal in a few weeks helps as well. Winter is winding down and along with that the air is becoming clean again. That in itself is such an odd statement to read. Spring in China is beautiful with the cherry blossoms and nightly celebrations so the camera will be in extreme mode. The myriad of street food stalls will begin to emerge from their winter hibernation making the use of my kitchen reduced to boiling water for coffee and tea.