Jiangzha—A Hot-Steaming Place
Written by Liu Qiankun
Jiangzha is somewhere too small to identify it in the map or locate it on the land, not conspicuous indeed but a place to which a visit will leave an indelible impression upon you.
To the northeast of Ruo Ergai county, bordering Gansu Province, is a small village called Jiangzha, from which stretching northwards, about several kilometers away, there cluster hot springs, all year round, with steaming-hot vapors rich in happiness and merry, which is insensate to newcomers.
To the northeast of Ruo Ergai county, in the Jiangzha village, flows the hot spring whose name is after the village, concatenating with Luqu county to the north in the Gansu province, with either one side neighboring the natural reserve for spotted deer in Sichuan Province. In terms of “Jiangzha”, pronounced in Tibetan, it means the abundance of red willows. Geographically, it serves as a cushion area, which is characteristic of the vista of plateau-like grandeur and boundlessness and mountain-like exuberance and verdancy.
Along the way stretching from the national highway 213 to a road in Die bu county, Gansu province, the hot spring foregoing, distanced 5.5 kilometers from the local government, is backed by mountains and sided with waters, with topping cypress and easy transportation, enjoying good surroundings. Among the surrounding mountains, the cliffs see more than 50 springs, big or small, gurgling, its crystal-clear water flowing down from high,with rocks tainted peacock blue and jade green, shinning in the sunlight, which seems as if a worldly painting ornate with pearls and diamonds. Following the bent of mountains, erected in proximity of some springs are some semi-concealed pavilions, merging the characteristics of Tibetan and Han nationalities, which well fit the verve of natural beauty, in the reflection of the clear water and against the backdrop of the green hills. Jiangzha boasts a good reputation for its hot spring in such areas as Sichuan, Gansu and Qingzang, well renowned as a land of holiness and auspices.
Rich in radon, it is,in Jiangzha, otherwise called spring of radon, for the chemical element is medically effective to cancer. Through the broken stratum of earth erupt the deep water circulating underground, forming stratum, made up of siliceous rocks, metaphoric sandstone and phyllites, where is running the medium hot spring ranging from 31C°—50C°, colorless, transparent and containing rich mineral elements as sulfur, iron and so on, and with its all-year-round continuous supply, long being deified as “holy water” with therapeutic effects. Based on hundreds of years of practice, it is to the knowledge of local people that it has a striking therapeutic effect on skin diseases, arthritis, rheumatism, cancer, and gastric illness. And with the increase of the number of the tourists, the county government has made it an item on the agenda to give optimum utilization of the hot spring in Jiangzha, starting with the already existing two big baths, four medium-sized baths and twenties of houses, with no efforts spared in the development of bath therapy and tourism, expanding the diversity in activities , scale in public image and standards in serving quality, offering tourists both physical catharsis and mental comfort.
On October 28, attracted by the hot spring, we set out to Jiangzha. It was snowing when we trespassed the world-renowned Re’er dam, with which covered with white snow, some tenderness and romance were added to the wild prairie. The golden yellow intermingled with whiteness, which arouse a temptation of comeback, put people in memory of the romantic episode in the movie. I thought to myself, truthfully, that in such an atmosphere of romance, if there had been a fair lady drawing closer and deeply moved, I would definitely have been emotionally involved, so as not to fail the good traveling experience.
Leave behind the sea of flowers, despite the charm and beauty, for physical intimacy is not right-scheduled but some sweet dreams or loving poems, and go back to Jiangzha, where you can get relaxed your body and soul and have the unconscious cure to some ailments at your comfort.
Before my arrival in Jiangzha, I only know Jiangzha and its hot spring. But according to the historical documents in Ruo Ergai, which says that hot spring, otherwise called spring of radon, a radioactive element, proving effective in treating cancer. And the stratum of earth on which is running the hot spring, colorless, transparent and rich in sulfur, iron and so on, is made up of siliceous rock, metaphoric sandstone and Phyllis, originally the deep water circulating underground leaking through the broken stratum of earth.
It is not a myth that hot spring cures illness. Truth is that so much diseases are said to be cured that I prejudge it a well circulated myth among the Tibetan people. During my stay, on the interview, I come to the house of a very famous local physician named Ni mei.
Being tall and strong-built, which is typical of man in Kang ba, Ni mei, excuse me, however, is a man in An duo. As different regions in Tibetan Plateau, it is the dialects that distinguish them, which is the same case with Sichuan and Hunan provinces in China. Despite that, they shared the same religious belief under the blue sky.
As a good talker, with good knowledge of what we want from him, he starts with family genealogy, informing us that medical tradition has been inherited from generations to generations, which serves the silent evidence that he has a knack for therapy, so his stories are credible about saving the dying and curing the sick.
Later on, he came out with a medical book, to which we are illiterate, for it was written in Tibetan. Without hesitation, he turned immediately to the marked page where it was all about how hot spring cures illness, judging from which, it seems that we are not the first to raise the question.
He told us, in Jiangzha, as to hot spring, there are mainly five, once recorded in the Tibetan traditional medical canons. To seek for the truth, he has done a self-afforded investigation to Chongqing, Batang, Ranwu and the north of Tibet, with the same conclusion as is made in the former. To our convenience for photographing, he put on his overcoat and boots, leading us as a guide.
Out of his house, we walked altogether less than two hundred meters, down a slanting slope, to the largest hot spring locally. The Tibetan people are bathing inside when abruptly we broke in. The hot spring, largest as said, is the spring of sulfur. And the spot has seen tradition of co-bathing regardless of gender taken place with two separate fully-closed bathing rooms, adequately affording hundreds of people. While bathing, in the steaming-hot vapors are teemed with the smirk and health of the local people. And the spring of sulfur, being commonplace, has the therapeutic effect for brasserie, skin diseases and arthritis.
Marching forward, a boy, about ten years old, showed up with a plastic bottle to be filled. At the sight of that, Ni mei said, we, the local people, all drink the hot spring, which is from the far mountain through the pipe. Following where he pointed out, a water pipe, I found out of the stones, was giving the hot vapor, which makes me so envious of them, for it is unparalleled in pureness, even compared with the purified water in cities. Adjacent to it sit a pavilion, an approach to which found it a hot spring where some Tibetan women are bathing, with its water rippling brilliantly under the warm sunlight that is greeted by the opening, generating in people the scent of spring in the early winter.
Ni mei, then, said, with his finger pointing to the mountain stones besides the pavilion, that stones with the color were called Wu lizi,with which hot spring of good quality always comes.
What do you mean by Wu lizi?
By Wu lizi, it means five metals, named gold, silver, cobbler, iron, and aluminum. That is to say, stones exhibiting the color suggest a fact that the mountain contains the five, and so does the spring flowing out, the most precious but rare. Besides, it is helpful to rheumatoid arthritis and idiopathic arthritis, serving many people, old and young, for longevity or health,
Looking down from where we stand, in sight were two pavilions to which Ni mei led us. Drawing closer, we get a glimpse of a limpid river raging with irresistible currents, apparently hot springs, with hot vapors belching around. Between the two a single-plank bridge connects the way, seeing several Tibetan women shaking off their clothes, ready for bath.
Pointing at something salting-like on the stone, Ni mei said that it was alum. We can find alum mine where we find it, with which the hot spring will have some clinical effects on the itches.
After that, he continued, pointing at the mountain behind him, that you can find there the limestone's, out of which flows the hot spring that will be the elixir to dyspeptic diseases. Sips of it will cure diarrhea if not grave.
Suffering the diarrhea, but without taking any medicine, I therefore asked him, is that true? It happens that I suffered diarrhea today.
Just have a try
Putting down the camera, I lowered my body, got a handful of water, and gave it several big drink. A little bit bitter as it is, to test its efficacy, I thought to myself, the bitter, the better.
There is another hot spring near the Han shui stone, a little bit far from there, will you go with me?
Having traveled hundreds of kilometers to Jiangzha, how could I be satisfied if not seeing it all before leaving? Without a second thought, “yes” uttered I. Along the highway, we set off to explore in the deep mountain, and the further we went, the wilder the mountain was, with fewer vegetation covered, almost bare rocks, leaving the sparse grasses lonely in the cold winds.
It was so grueling to have a long walk on the plateau, that not long we lost our breath. And Ni mei, pointing at the sink on the slant, said that it was the hot spring near Han shui stone. But there is no hot vapor belching around, for which the reason is unknown, either for it is in the open, or it is cool in itself. Being more than fifties years old, he wasn’t tired at all, keeping ascending the mountain, while saying that “Let’s go, we move to see the Han shui stone”
We kept walking until getting exhausted, and finally saw the limestone, lying in stocks. He said, “In 2001, a man from Gansu, came to build a tent here, and after living for three months, he recovered from a tumor-related disease”.
Of what kind is the tumor?
The man, with a big tumor in his belly, tried many medical treatment, but all proved in vain. Thus, at the news that hot spring in Jiangzha cures tumor, with the last ray of hope, he came here with his two children, from seven to ten years old. To his surprise, after three months, he got totally recovered.
It is the spot where no pavilion was set, no one in charge, perhaps because few people came here for tumor treatment. But well worth mentioning is that people enjoys the lowest-paid hot spring in the world, with only 2 yuan, bathing available the whole day. What is more, the hot spring was very clean, for it would be renewed by the hour.
It is a mountainous area, where second to legends are the hot springs which can be found in abundance. Wherever small flows of hot water surface on the ground, if tapped, hot springs will be in existence by accumulation.
In Jiangzha, the hot springs, of course, cannot be the cure to all diseases. Generally speaking, it has good therapeutic effects on gynecology, skin diseases, in nominate inflammatory, and erectile dysfunction, but not on hepatitis, cholecystitis and pneumonia. Every year, in March, April and August, the Tibetan people, from Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces, will come here for bathing. In the hot season, it receives one or two thousand people per day and about tens of thousands of people a year. It is a custom that lasted for hundreds of years. Nowadays, the act of co-bathing regardless of gender is still given a place in the custom, but usually the people of the same nationality or family members, not with strangers in the normal case.
Ronda, waiting for their growing up physically and mentally.