Written by Jan 2, 2006 01:01
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I have been caught out before, so I try to avoid planning things in advance whilst living here in China. Quite often other things get planned for you by employers and the like. Sometimes with minimal notice - otherwise say, only a couple of days or so before the actual event. This practice can be very difficult for foreigners to get used to and accept in China. In the western countries, we are more accustomed to planning our dates, months, even years well in advance. This especially applies for occasions such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve.


Prior to Christmas 2005, I decided not to make any plans for Christmas Day. The year before, some other foreigners & I paid for and attended a western-style luncheon in a 5-star hotel in Kunming. That evening, the university we taught at, treated us to a local Chinese restaurant where we were not only dined, but also entertained with a Christmas performance show. We all felt that the evening function was much better than the lunch we independently arranged. It was only one day before Christmas that we were advised of the university’s Christmas arrangements. It was too late to cancel our lunch bookings at the hotel.


Now based in Chengdu and three days before Christmas 2005, I received an unexpected phone call from the service manager of the Bank of China. I accepted an invitation to attend a function of some sorts which I thought would be for the full day of December 24th. Next day, more details were faxed to my university’s foreign affairs office, and subsequently translated from Chinese to English. I then learnt that I would travel by coach two hours from Chengdu to the Dead Sea of China, and stay for not one day but for two days (including Christmas Day) in a 5-star resort.


All meals, accommodation & other regular costs at the Dead Sea would be met by the Bank of China in conjunction with the Chengdu Commercial Newspaper. All I basically needed to take with me was a camera.


The specially arranged charter bus departed from the Chengdu Hotel at 9am on Saturday 24th December. Most passengers were Chinese enjoying a short holiday break. There were only a handful of English speakers (mostly from Europe). After travelling west for less than two hours & being lightly entertained onboard by a martial arts movie, we arrived at Daying, Suining - still in Sichuan Province, yet very close to the border of Chong Qing municipality.


There are various levels of accommodation available. I was checked into the Sun City five-star standard resort, adjoining the Dead Sea of China. This is said to be the only five-star standard hotel in the western area of China at present. It has a total of 317 rooms. The height of the room is 3.8 metres.


The hotel room balcony looked out over the courtyard pictured in Chapter 3 of this review. Room facilities included air-conditioning, domestic and foreign television programs,computer & internet, international phone call services, a special-purpose safety box, and ensuite shower (sorry no bath tub). In addition, the hotel also provided swimming clothing (including bathing costumes, robes & sandals).


Other accommodation advertised was the three-star standard Dead Sea Illusion City Hotel, & the YMCA International Youth Hostel, which offered bunk-style dormitories. Internet access appeared to be available in all rooms. Anyone wishing to check current or seasonal room rates, may care to copy & paste the link below to the Dead Sea of China website ....



The original Dead Sea in Israel is located on the world's 30 degree north latitude. It is the saltiest & most mineral-laden body of water in the world. The buoyancy and warmth of the water has everyone floating. Its health promoting thermo-mineral springs & world famous cosmetic black mud has been praised by visitors for a long time. The Dead Sea of China is also situated on the world's 30 degree north latitude.


About 150 million years ago, the earth's plate movement cause land separation. This formed an inland lake between Israel & Jordan - The Dead Sea. At the same time and for a similar reason, a giant underground saline lake was formed in Sichuan's Daying County.


The bittern water which is extracted from 3,000 metres under the ground can maintain an outside temperature of 40 degrees Celsius all year round, after the natural cooling and desulphurization process. This creates a unique Dead Sea hot spring in the world.


The Dead Sea of China in Daying was opened to the world on 1st May 2004. The first landscape had been constructed at the foot of a hill and beside a stream. It occupied about 2,000 Chinese acres. The total plan used 5,000 Chinese acres, and investment by the Chengdu TianYou company exceeded more than Y 1 billion RMB.


Because the bittern water can maintain 40 degrees temperature all year, this means that you can soak in a hot spring at any time. The indoor complex shelters everyone from the winter cold. If you are sensitive to heat, there is also cooling sea water available too in the man-made beach with automated waves. Another feature is the big 100kg wooden barrel. When a person stands underneath, the bucket pours over him or her. You get the excitement of an instant massage as the hot spring water drenches you.


Guests have 24 hour access to the water activities. However, there are other forms of entertainment available. These include western-style stage performances, such as dancing, singing, juggling, acrobatics & fire-eating.


I was provided with four banquet-style meals (lunch, dinner, breakfast & lunch) at the Chinese Restaurant of the Sun City Resort. I understand that dinner and / or lunch is usually available at Y300 per table. Drinks are not included. There are 2 & 3 day tour packages available. However, it is best to refer to the link already given in Chapter 8 of this review, for current rates.


After the new "Arabic Nights" dancing performance finished around 10pm, some audience members joined in onstage spraying foam, throwing streamers, & hitting each other with plastic air-filled baseball bats. It was safe for others to remain away from the stage and just observe the mayhem.


For those who wanted to party on more, dancing & other fun was available in the night club / bar until after midnight. More onstage entertainment was supplied by costumed dancers with a distinct Hawaiian flavour. Of course, guests & their small children also did their own dancing. The night was finished off with a talent quest between men & women. I got back to my room at about 1am Christmas morning.


Breakfast was served between 8 – 9am. Guests were free to do whatever they desired during the morning. Some availed themselves of salt treatment care / sports, others of body massages. These things were not included as part of the complimentary tour. After lunch, the bus departed and arrived back in Chengdu around 4pm. Feeling relaxed, I was very pleased that I had not made any other prior arrangements for Christmas myself.

Warren Rodwell
January 2006

 More Sichuan Travel Reviews
1. Luzhou Laojiao 1573 JABAROOTOO from CN Dec 12, 2005 03:12
2. mr. DINOTHAM Nov 1, 2005 06:11
3. A drop in the Bamboo Sea JABAROOTOO from CN Oct 28, 2005 13:10
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