BY ELIZABETH KING
NANJING — Before the infamous springtime humidity sets in, several students at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center made a day trip to one of Nanjing’s most famous attractions: the Tangshan hot springs. Located 30km west of the city center, the hot springs provide a calm, natural setting to relax and unwind after the hectic midterm season. Even though the springs attract their greatest numbers in the cold, wet winter months, spring is a great time to visit Tangshan as well.
“Tangshan,” which translates to “soup mountain,” is a place where visitors can get away from city life. The particular spring complex that students from the HNC visited is called Easpring. Which boasts more than 70 pools. It is located halfway up a mountain and is very scenic.
Each of the soaking pools at Easpring has a different theme. There are green tea- and peppermint-infused pools along with some more nuanced options, such as the red wine soaking pool and the Turkish-themed fish pool, where small fish nibble away the dead skin on your body. Some pools are known for their medicinal benefits, such as the pool with a special rock bottom for healthy feet. One of the most memorable experiences of the trip was spending time in the “sand pool,” which is a pit of fine, heated gravel. Here, visitors dig holes in the ground and are then covered up with the gravel and left alone to rest for 30 minutes. The weight of the hot gravel creates a very strange, though comfortable, cocoon-like sensation. Throughout all the activities, participants stay comfortably hydrated thanks to the abundant barley tea, jasmine green tea, and salt-sugar infused water.
After many hours of energy-exerting soaking, the logical next step was to head out for a large lunch feast. Our group headed down the mountain and decided on a small restaurant with a large selection of traditional specialties. Some of the highlights included fried duck head, braised goose, soft tofu with pepper sauce, whole-cooked fish with aged tofu, and homemade sausage (a particular favorite of mine!).
For the history buffs out there, Tangshan holds a special place in the cultural history of Nanjing. In the 1940s, Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek), head of the Nationalist Party from 1928-1949, and his wife, Song Meiling, frequented Tangshan. They loved the area so much that they even had their own villa, which can now be visited throughout the year.
No matter the time of year, the Tangshan hot springs are a relaxing, peaceful, and natural experience for students, tourists, and locals alike. Make sure to visit these beautiful springs should you find yourself in Nanjing, and make sure to enjoy the beauty, barley tea, and braised goose.
If you go: Easpring, No. 8 Wenquan Road, Tangshan Town, Jiangning District 江宁区汤山街道温泉路8号