My Staycation…

I just got back from a brief respite of four days from work. I was actually compelled to take them. Back in May, I had to attend some work-related events on two of my days off. I was credited with two extra days with the proviso that they be taken in July. So I tacked Friday and Saturday onto my regular “weekend” days of Wednesday and Thursday, July 12-13. Of course, I then had to figure out what to do, where to go. I had originally thought I would take a train or plane to a nearby city for a few nights. But then I would have had a rushed time of it, just for the sake of getting away.

What really interested me was to stay in a nice hotel, lounging around an outdoor pool, catching up on my reading. The fact that Xi’an has been in the grip of a weeks long heatwave made hanging by a pool, very attractive. Interestingly, or oddly as the case may be, not one hotel in Xi’an has an outdoor pool. Indoor pools in the summer simply don’t turn me on. In my research, I stumbled onto a resort, well outside of Xi’an, very close to the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit.  Angsona Xi’an Lintong is a five-star resort in an area known for hot-springs retreats. It’s sits at the foot of Lishan Mountain. The fact that it’s large pool was half indoors and half outdoors and the hotel is in the luxury category was enough for me. 

Coincidentally, a colleague- Azara- at our other teaching center in Xi’an also had the same, extra days off. We had kicked around the idea of traveling somewhere together, as mentioned above but then I elected to have my “staycation.”  So she decided to check into Angsona as well. At the same time, one of my students-Helen- asked if I had seen a famous, local outdoor show, called “The Song of Everlasting Sorrow” (I know, there’s a Trump joke in there, somewhere.) and offered to secure some tickets as well as drive me to see it. Now who can turn that down? So she came up from Xi’an on Thursday night to take us to the show and also drove us to dinner at the restaurant, Nancy, Sophie and I had lunch in, back in October, that was one our best meals during our travels around China.

As you can see from the photos, a great time was had by all. Azara and I hiked up Lishan Mountain (nothing like an uphill hike in 100 degree heat), stopping to be photographed as a gun-toting officer (it’s just better to see the photos) and taking the cable-car back down. Like me, Azara is an avid news junkie, so our evening entertainment was CNN and lots of wine. You’ll also notice that I didn’t take any photos at the pool, but I did get to lounge around it (watching MSNBC on YouTube) and because it was so blazing hot, I actually went in the water.

Prior to the vacation, I had it in my mind to be knocking back margaritas, poolside. Knowing that it was highly unlikely that I could get one, as these types of mixed drinks are largely unheard of in Xi’an, I made up a large batch of homemade margarita mix. No Jose Cuervo mix to be found within a thousand miles of here. Armed with a couple of bottles of tequila and bags of tortilla chips and homemade guacamole dip, we were, without question, good to go. 

I may as well mention the oddity (by American standards) of the pool rules at Angsona. Think of them as a proxy for the tendency towards bureaucracy that is common in China. One must wear “proper” pool attire and you will be hounded by many employees, if you don’t comply. You cannot enter the pool area unless you show proof of a swimming cap and if you don’t have one, you have to buy one there. You must also wear swimming attire and have proper footwear. There are plenty of employees standing around with nothing better to do than enforce these regulations. It doesn’t matter if you have no intention of using the pool. If you just want to sit on a chair, you must still wear swimwear.

As with all of the silly rules I encounter, I just suck them up and deal with it. I’m not inclined to argue when it’s far easier to comply. My travel partner, Azara, on the other hand, simply refuses, in all situations, to abide by rules she finds illogical, annoying or merely bureaucratic. Like Larry David, she doesn’t mind getting into it with someone who’s charged with upholding rules that she finds idiotic. Ironically, not speaking Chinese works in her favor. Since those enforcing the rules are unable to argue with her, at some point, they usually leave her alone because her intransigent dialogue in an incomprehensible language usually wears them down. She’s the master of waltzing through security checkpoints without having to surrender her personal effects to be searched. 

So when a handful of pool employees tried to impress upon her the rules of engagement, she simply refused to assent, arguing, ad nauseam, that she only wanted to sit by the pool. The best they could do was hand her a robe and ask her to wear it while sitting, which she didn’t even bother to do. Again, at some point the keepers of the rules realized they were just spinning their wheels talking with her and let her be. Meanwhile, “Mr. abides by the rules” meekly complied when a female employee told me I had to take my shirt off, while lounging, I kid you not.

So check out the photos and see what $116 a night inclusive of all fees and with a breakfast buffet gets you.

The entrance to the hotel

Check-in time

The TV greeting in my room

My balcony. This is another oddity. Very rarely are there balconies that are open air, either at hotels or apartments

Stock photos of the pool

The entrance to Lishan Mountain

“Chairman Meow.” Sure, I’ll pay two bucks for this

I most certainly wasn’t expecting to see militaria during the hike

I didn’t expect to see a temple with Doric columns while hiking up the mountain

Hiking up the mountain with Lintong in the background

At the top of Mt. Lishan is a complex of buildings which, I assume are Buddhist, in nature. I could be wrong

Cable car ride down Mt. Lishan. Two hours up, five minutes down

Wow! Do I take bad Selfies, or what?

The restaurant Nancy, Sophie and I still talk about from our lunch in October, back when I was merely a tourist. Who knew?

Some of the staff noticed that I was showing the blog posting I made, to Helen on my IPAD, from my October visit and they all gathered around to see themselves in the pictures

It turns out this is a chain restaurant. There’s an outlet near my office!

It’s the same thing I had for lunch back in October. Even the bowl is the same

The front entrance to the Song of Everlasting Sorrow Show

My student, Helen and Azara. Helen will be visiting her son in Utah in September, then driving to Las Vegas, SF and LA.

Not very Communistic

Before the show started


That’s not the moon in the sky, it’s a moon model set up on a hill, as part of the set



2 thoughts on “My Staycation…

  1. Hi Brian,
    Glad to know that you had lots of fun during the brief respite, the resort looks fancy and the oddities are just hilarious.
    In fact, I was surprised that people are allowed to jump in the swimming pool without a swimming cap in New Zealand when I just got here, as everyone is required to wear a swimming cap before they jump into the water in China. Now it looks like only China has the odd pool rules since China has its speciality of a large population. Lol…


  2. Wow, I never thought I would see you in Chinese Guard Uniform with automtic rifle, but somehow you seem to fit the role perfectly. Thinking of having that as a career backup?

    Truly astounded with these pictures


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