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Discovering China

Do you know much about China? I don’t know nearly enough about this big, beautiful country. Yes, I know Beijing is the capital, I know a little about Shanghai (both hugely fun places, by the way) and I could talk endlessly about the pandas in Chengdu. Oh, the pandas! I was there a couple of years ago when babies had just been born. If there is anything cuter than a baby panda, I’m going to need you to tell me about it! And I probably won’t believe you. Surely nothing can be that cute.

As you can probably tell, I find it very hard to concentrate on the task at hand when I think about baby pandas. But I must. There are places in China I know literally nothing about that have a population bigger than London and New York put together. Take Chongqing for example. It’s a place I’ve heard of (vaguely) but if you wanted me to tell you something interesting about it, I would have to Google it. In fact I’ll do that now.

Interesting fact number one: the urban population is 18,384,100. Or at least it was when it was last counted. It’s probably gone up now. And again now. Interesting fact number two: it is home to China’s first underwater museum – The Baiheliang Underwater Museum. I didn’t know there were any underwater museums or indeed that anyone had even had the idea that a museum under water might be nice.

While I have failed to be aware of a city with enough people to re-populate Iceland 55 times, Small Luxury Hotels of the World has managed to be one step ahead of the trend (as usual).

Not only have they heard of it, they’ve managed to find a boutique hideaway with just 13 rooms surrounded by historic hot springs there! Introducing By-Spring Villa.

By-spring villa

Hot Spring Pool at By-Spring Villa

I say 13 rooms, but what I should say is 13 villas. All are equipped with a private spring water pool and offer a 24-hour butler service. Apparently, these butlers do things like lighting scented candles around your pool and scatter rose petals if you’re in a romantic mood.

Only 4 hours away from this luxury retreat are the ancient sites of Leshan, where you can explore the awe inspiring Grand Buddha. This huge statue, carved into the cliff over 1,000 years ago, is the largest stone Buddha in the world! You can then head back to Ayard of Ch’an for some private meditation in the gardens surrounded by pine trees – yes please!

I then want to pop over to Lijiang to see the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the canyons and rivers of Tiger Leaping Gorge. It all sounds very mystical and exciting! I can’t wait to finish my trip off at Lijiang’s Patio Resort for the ultimate in relaxation at the traditional Cambodian spa.

It seems I have planned a whole two week trip in the space of two hours!

I’m off to learn a lot more about China now. To see if there are any other underwater museums or mega cities I’ve never heard of. And if you have any interesting facts about China or places to go I’d love to hear about them… I have a lot to learn!

Melissa. X

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