Spa

V’s gugu (father’s younger sister), biao di (father’s younger sister’s son) and tang di (father’s younger brother’s son) have come to visit for the week, so as per tradition we went to the “Korean spa” yesterday. This involved getting up fairly early, packing bags full of clothes and entertainment, phoning to see if we could take the pram (“no”), meandering out of the house in dribs and drabs, and taking two buses across to the other side of Tongzhou.

The point of the spa is surely the big room downstairs with the pool, showers and sauna, but I was the only one out of the nine to bother with it more than once. I wasn’t particularly interested in getting into conversation with paunchy midddle-aged naked Chinese men with tattoos, so I just went to the deserted sauna and tried to sweat out my cold. I had three sessions. During the first one a man came in with a wet shirt, which he hung on the railings until I explained to him that while a sauna was hot, it probably wasn’t the best place to dry a shirt. The second session was fine until some macho type came in, pressed all the buttons to add water to the coals, said that it was too hot now, and walked out again. The third session was uneventful until an old man came in and lit up a cigarette.

Upstairs the family had booked a room. I thought it would be a room with sofas and a table where we could all play mahjong, but you had to pay an extra £35 for one of those, so we just had a regular room, which turned out to be like a hotel room, but with a warped mirror on the ceiling. Hm.

Two beds and nine people meant most of us were hanging round other parts of the complex, particularly the third floor, which has large rooms full of recliners with people sleeping on them. I hung out there and watched downloaded TV on my tablet for a few hours. It’s hard to find several beds together, so the others would just turn up from time to time.

The second floor has a frankly laughable gym (three broken cycling machines and a table tennis table) and a large restaurant. The food is better quality canteen fare, with occasional luxury items. This time there was lots of seafood, freshly cooked on demand. All too messy for me, apart from the raw salmon drenched in wasabi sauce – I ended up eating plenty of that.

We left to go home at 8.30pm, after nearly 12 hours. Outside the sun had gone down but it was still hot. Not a bad day out, but not a great one this time. Perhaps we’re all getting a little bored with the place.

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