We set off early on Wednesday morning, the weather was beautiful and we were excited to head out of the city before the madness of school began. We drove for two hours, passing the Great Wall at Badaling, before turning off the motorway and ambling down a very small dirt road. Our driver got lost in the smallest village, we were stared at by the locals, and almost crashed before we arrived at a frozen river. Jumping out of the bus we all skipped off like kids to stand on the ice, throw fireworks at the ice and generally act like a bunch of idiots! Sometimes I think we are more like children than the children we teach. We started walking up stream, past farmers, corn fields, cows...at one point the boys were so transfixed by the cows you would think they had never seen one before...and most of us come from the UK or Ireland. We kept walking until the ice began to disappear from the river. We finally found a good place with enough ice and water to fish. Setting up the BBQ, we got our fishing rods and bate, ready to catch a few fish for lunch! Thankful we had brought sandwiches, sausages and bacon because not only did we not catch a single fish, we couldn't even get the bate onto the rods.
After failing at the fishing, we attempted to break the ice, once again this was unsuccessful! Fred, the guy who runs the trips, told us we needed to get to the other side of the river for the hot tub experience. Now this was a dilemma, the ice had melted so much upstream that we couldn't walk across and from what we could see there wasn't a bridge in the distance. Common sense would have been to cross earlier when the river had been covered in ice but well what can you do! So we packed up and began walking...We heard Fred suggest we wade across, bags on our heads! We began to panic, not only was it freezing, the river was deep and the river bed was muddy and well none of us wanted to die! We kept walking and finally saw a part of the river that was shallow and stony. Still unsure of what we were going to do, Fred lunges into the river and is on the other side before we even have to time to blink. Thus we pulled our shoes off and plunged into the freezing water. Thankfully no one fell, although Mike released after he walked across in his trainers that he had waterproof shoes in this bag.
At this point we were expecting to see some beautiful scenery as we ambled closer to the Hot Tubs...instead we found ourselves trudging through three inches of mud, breaking and then climbing over a fence to find ourselves in a construction site. Ah China! So forget what you imagine when you picture hot tubs and you find yourself in a field, with corrugated roofs, and two smallish tubs with hot water in them. There were no trees, no cocktails, there was a few dogs, a man washing his car and lots of dust, oh and not forgetting the trains that passed every thirty minutes! Only in China would you find yourself in a construction site for a holiday. Well we made the best of it. The rooms were hot, thanks to the flowing hot water into the bathrooms, not to mention the steam and water dripping from the ceiling, and the beds were comfortable. We put the bikinis and swimming trunks on and headed to the hot tubs. We drank beer, we roasted ourselves in the water and to be honest if you ignored the guy washing his car it was pretty darn good.
We sat in the tubs until we went wrinkly, then we grab a very interesting dinner and made our way back to the tubs for some night time swimming. The boys decided to cannonball into the tubs, making loud splashes, water going everywhere, and they weren't exactly deep. We did get told off for this and promised to remain seated like normal human beings. It was good fun and for my first hot tub experience, although it may not have been the most beautiful location, the water was hot and when you don't have baths in your flat its the next best thing.
The next morning we woke to find ourselves in the middle of a dust storm, with trains blaring past every ten minutes. We had a breakfast of runny, watery eggs, salty potatoes and bread, not the best thing I have eaten but its the best you can do when on a construction site. As we drove out of the hot tub place we could see all the construction going on and in a few months/years it will probably be very beautiful but at the minute unless you are desperate for a bath I would avoid this place until it is finished! However that's not to say we didn't have fun and well it makes for another interesting and strange trip in the land of China.