I went on a retreat last weekend. It was two days of technology-free vacation away from my current vacation. This was where I was – Jin-Shui-Tai Hot Springs (金水台温泉). We traveled about two hours southwest inland to this resort-owned town. As soon as we were parked and I hopped off the car, I was greeted with fresh air and a fine mist. It had been raining for the past two days in my hometown and apparently here too.
There was also something festive in the air as the resort get ready for Chinese New Year in the upcoming weeks. Red lanterns hung from the trees in the parking lot. Red is the lucky color in China.
I didn’t take a lot of pictures on the first day. That afternoon, not long after settling in the hotel room, I changed into my bathing suit and put on a bathrobe, ready to immerse myself in relaxation. I followed my aunt to the hot springs area without an idea of what to expect. I can tell you I didn’t expect to be outside in the cold and the rain. I didn’t expect there were so many little pools. I certainly did not expect to feel relaxed in a pool of hot water but there I was, leaning back, enjoying the mist, the steam, and the water to soothe my achy muscles.
My mom had promised to take me to a hot springs retreat years ago. There’s a hot springs resort up in Idaho, about two hours from where we live in Utah. However, she kept saying she wants to wait until her entire family is here. I am not sure if she knows what she’s missing out.
I finally got to take some pictures on the second day. We had a big breakfast that morning. It was my first Chinese breakfast buffet. It was an odd scene at first. No eggs nor bacon nor pancakes nor hash-browns in sight. All I could see were noodles, porridge, tea, and cakes. The buffet was chaotic as people fought for the food. I had to play a game of Grab the Ladle just to get myself some porridge. It was like a group of hungry hounds fighting for the same bone.
The benefit was that while everyone was fighting over breakfast, there were less than no one soaking in the hot springs, giving me an opportunity to take some pictures and soak in the fresh air and relaxing ambiance.
After all the pictures were taken, we returned to our hotel rooms and switched into our bathing suits one more time before going for one last soaking before checking out and heading home. This has been a memorable experience which I will never forget and it was one of the few times I managed to really relax.