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A month ago, I went to a resort town about an hour outside of Guangzhou with a small group of friends and friends of friends who are now just friends. In total, we were seven people. We stayed at a spa/hotel that featured an extensive variety of “hot springs,” which were man-made jacuzzi-size pools of different flavors. I mean, you weren’t supposed to drink the water, that’s not what I’m saying, but each had a different therapeutic angle. One pool was extremely bubbly. One pool had rose essential oils in it and roses floating on top of the water. One pool was filled with live turkey fish that would eat the dead skin off your feet like it was Thanksgiving dinner. That pool was cold. One pool had massaging chairs submerged in the water. One pool was part water, part rice alcohol. One pool was specially designed for business conferencing. It was secluded from the rest by a little garden and faced the mountains on one side. There was even a yin-yang pool called “Fire and Ice” that was filled on one side with water that was way too hot to sit in and filled on the other side with water that was way too cold to sit in. The list goes on. In the middle of the hot spring park was a giant swimming pool backed by a stage that held nightly performances including comedy, ballads, game shows, acrobatics, and many styles of dance.

The deal was this: You buy a room for a night and you get unlimited access to the hot springs and the lounge attached to the changing rooms/showers where you get pampered and served deserts and coffee. The room also comes with a free breakfast buffet that was the most bizarre and extensive buffet I’ve ever experienced.

Here are a few pictures I took of the view from the room that I shared with two friends. We got the cheapest room and it was quite expensive, even split between three people. I can’t imagine what the luxury rooms looked like. All rooms come with aqua robes and slippers to wear around the hot springs and hotel. Nobody there except the staff wore anything but their robes and slippers.

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My favorite things about the resort:

1. The signs written in Chinglish (nonsensical English) at every hot spring that explained the health benefits of immersing one’s body in that particular water. I didn’t bring my camera past the changing rooms because I didn’t want to get it wet, but I really wish I had because some of the descriptions were priceless.

2. Getting pampered in the changing rooms, which were enormous and filled with every and any toiletry product a girl could need. You could get a massage for extra charge, but the steam room and sauna were included. An attendant noticed that the bow on my robe was lopsided and fussed over it for a full five minutes. She came back a moment later to adjust my robe because it wasn’t draping as she saw fit. One of my friends had been to that spa on a previous occasion during the off-season. She said that the attendants combed and braided her hair because they had nothing else to do.

3. Every attendant in the entire spa always knew where every single person in our group was at all times. We were the only foreigners, so we stood out. My friend John got separated from the group at one point in the evening, so he asked one of the attendants if she had seen us. She immediately started whispering into her radio and within in ten seconds answered, “They’re in the lounge.”

4. The MC for the evening show on the pool was absurdly tan. Disgustingly tan. Fake tan all the way. He was a deep shade of orange. And he had frosted tips. Frosted tips were cool when Justin Timberlake had ’em circa 1998. Never since. To complete the look, MC was wearing a shark skin button down (though only buttoned half-way up his torso to reveal an oiled chest) and tight fake leather pants. He looked like a male stripper.

5. One of the evening’s performances was a synchronized dance to space music. The dancers, all girls, wore alien costumes, which were very silly and very ill-fitting. The stage lights were acid green. The backdrop consisted of giant jungle leaves and sparkly abstract shapes. I think there was a fog machine. The dance itself was more awkward than the costumes; the girls moved like sleepy robot soldiers. BUT, as crazy as all this sounds, I was completely mesmerized. I checked in with my friends afterward and found out that they too had been mesmerized.

6. EVERYONE I encountered at the resort–staff and guests–was polite, kind, and helpful. Really, great vibes in that place.

I had a great weekend. I laughed a lot. I got all the dead skin nibbled off my feet. I swam in a lot of bubbles. I lost my swimsuit playing water volley-ball. I made new friends. And I got to see a new (serene) part of Guangdong Province. A great time all around.

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