Towards late November, I drove to Xinjing Hot Springs with iChongqing, whom the resort had invited to shoot a promotional video, showing the natural environment, pools, facilities and pampering on offer.
The route took us north on the G75 until the exit just before the Beibei toll station, after which we followed a bumpy, picturesque country road flanked by the Jialing River and Jinyun Mountain on either side.
Beibei北碚 was once a small city unto itself, but as with many towns and villages scattered in between, the rapid expansion of Chongqing proper has swallowed them up, thus demoting them to mere suburban neighbourhoods.
As we pulled up outside the main entrance, it was no surprise to find the complex virtually deserted. The peaceful location is nestled at the foot of Jinyun Mountain, facing away from Beibei, so private transport is a must to access the recreational gems that lie within.
Unless, that is, you happen to live in the Xinjing Hot Spring Resort, which interestingly doubles up as a retirement home.
By the main entrance, there is a ground level village of small, senior citizen friendly apartment blocks, with spacious rooms, low kitchenettes, bathroom railings, and private hot spring water bath on the balcony.
The buildings that host entertainment, relaxation, spa, hot springs, mahjong rooms, and dining facilties sit perched upon the hillside at different heights. But despite the vertical challenges, a myriad of gentle lifts with giant floor buttons impossible to miss, even less mobile residents can access its far reaches.
As invitees that day, the attentive manager and helpful staff generously smoothed our passage through the pool areas, massage centre, and lounges. At midday, and before we left, the chefs dished up a range of hearty, sumptuous local dishes to keep our energy levels up, all on the house!
I felt impressed with the attractive, pristine environment, and the variety of themed baths where they instill the waters with combinations of Chinese medicinal herbs, each with their own curative properties displayed on poolside boards.
Question marks still linger over the veracity of some health benefits for me.
While I trust the warm spring waters indeed help relieve stress and stimulate blood circulation, I tend to regard claims such as reversing senility, cleansing organs or enhancing ‘qi’ more as a linguistic embellishment than a realistic expectation.
This was the first time I’ve ever been to the hot springs on business, rather than pleasure, so after a full day of location spotting, remembering lines, presenting on camera, and liaising with management, we drove home in the dark after an enjoyable, but tiring day out.
After watching my first two cameo appearances with iChongqing on the Manjianghong river cruise and Hot Pot Festival, I witnessed a few issues that stem from a lack of on screen experience, such as speaking unintelligibly, exaggerated facial expressions, and an overly fidgety demeanour.
Hopefully, you’ll find my third attempt a big improvement, though I’ve now resolved to hit the weights again!
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