Maria Holland

Digging Our Own Graves

In Uncategorized on December 28, 2009 at 12:49 am

Today, we finally made it to Xiamen’s hot springs.  Aleid and I had been talking about it but then Bianca is hosting a friend visiting from Sweden, which made the visit a little bit more imminent.  Thus, at 12:30 we were at Lun Du trying to figure out to how to get to Riyuegu, Xiamen’s famous hot spring resort.

We paid 148 kuai for the entrance, including a bus there and back (about a half hour away).  Once we got there, we also decided to spring for the 78 package including the fish pool, hot sand, and hot stone massage.  That brought our total to 226 kuai, or $33. 

The resort is quite amazing.  It’s almost like you’re not in China!  It’s clean, beautiful, and remarkably convenient.  A bracelet opens your locker and is used to pay for everything; towels are free and readily available; sandals are turned around for you after you enter a spring; we were offered umbrellas as we went out into the rain. 

We first 泡-ed the hot springs.  (Interesting Chinese note for today – the verb for going into hot springs is the same as the verb for making tea.  You 泡 a hot spring, and you 泡 tea bags in hot water.)  They had springs of every temperature between air temp (around 14 C) up to 40C and even higher.  They also came in every flavor imaginable: cucumber, lemongrass, aloe vera, peppermint, coffee, ginger, ginseng, wine, baijiu, and beer were among those we visited.  The weather – cold and rainy – made it a perfect day for lounging lazily in hot water.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been a glass of wine to drink while we were soaking in it :)

When we finally got around to using our package, things got interesting.  Our first stop was the hot sand, which looked like a big sand box with people lying buried up to their necks.  “Awesome!” we thought . . . and then, as the worker handed us each a shovel, we figured out that it was “self service” – we dig the holes and the workers cover us up.  It was such a ridiculous situation, digging our own graves at a luxury spa, that I didn’t stop laughing the entire time.  It was pretty nice with the weight of sand on top of my body, but the sand wasn’t as warm as I hoped.

We stopped by the fish pond, but it was the end of the day and the fish were full.  I think I got two nibbles; it was nothing compared to my first time in Taiwan.  We also got the hot stone massage, but the stones weren’t hot enough to combat the coolness of the evening.  We followed that up with a trip to the saunas, which fixed the problem quite nicely.  They had one that was 35C and 100% humidity – so basically Xiamen in the summer – but we preferred the 57 and 72C dry saunas, which also smelled really good . . .

On the bus ride, I had an interesting conversation with Aleid about the One-Child Policy.  This is one of those things that I thought I knew about before coming to China.  I knew about the Little Emperor Syndrome, the gender imbalance, etc.  I figured I would never need to ask Chinese friends if they have siblings – of course not, what a stupid question.  But my experiences on this trip have not matched up with this at all.  Almost all of my Chinese friends have siblings; Yong Zhi is one of 4! 

I think that money has a lot to do with it.  According to the policy, each couple is allowed one child unless they’re a rural family and their first child is a girl.  (Or if they’re a minority, which I think is very interesting.)  After the first child, there are heavy fines and penalties to discourage further children.  Xiamen, being a Special Economic Zone; and XiaDa, being such a prominent school, is probably disproportionately rich. 

This would also explain why, on previous trips to China’s more rural Jilin province, I experienced the effects of the One Child Policy more personally.  I remember a conversation with a Korean woman who was reveling in her freedom to have a second child.  I remember hearing that my dear friends Xiao Zhang and Xiao Li were considering having a second but needed to make sure they could take the hit financially.  And I remember how devastated I was when I learned that our taxi driver and housekeeper had conceived a second child but, unable to afford it, had an abortion. 

I hate abortion.  As evil as it is, though, there’s even more wrong with this policy.  There are all the unintended consequences that we hear about in America (Little Emperor Syndrome, gender imbalance, aging population), but the most horrifying to me is the mindset that it has created in the Chinese people.  Based on conversations that I’ve had with various Chinese friends, they think that there are simply too many of them.  They think of themselves as a blight on the earth almost, which makes my heart ache for them.  It also sometimes seems to me as an easy out (especially when people suggest a similar policy in other countries), the ultimate example of passing our problems on to our children . . . or, as it were, not.  The law combined with this mindset make my heart ache more than I can say.  It’s the Culture of Death engraved in law, encouraged by the government, guiltily accepted by the people. 

Tomorrow (December 28th) is the Feast of the Holy Innocents in the Catholic liturgical calendar.  According to the biblical Nativity story, Herod ordered the slaughter of all young boy children in Bethlehem  because he feared the rise of one of them as King of the Jews.  They became the first martyrs of the early church, and are honored on this day shortly after Christmas.  I’m going to pray to them tomorrow, lifting up the people of China, and the millions of my peers across the world who didn’t survive the slaughter either.

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  1. hey! The hot springs sound amazing! I’m in Singapore right now for the new years, crazy here… it’s more english than chinese and feels WAY more like I’m still in america.

  2. Amazing and beautiful commentary. Thanks for writing it.

  3. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you
    create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz respond as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to know where u got
    this from. many thanks

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