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Slopes and Springs


   For centuries, hot springs have served mankind in a variety of ways, providing a perfect leisure activity even before the dawn of technology.

   While the Native Americans were taking advantage of hot springs in what is now Yellowstone National Park, on the other side of the world, the Chinese were using hot springs to treat diseases and enhance health, dubbing them "divine" or "holy" water.

  Liaoyang, in China´s northeastern province of Liaoning, is blessed with abundant geothermal resources. A long-circulated tale holds that during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when an expedition headed by Emperor Taizong passed by, many accompanying soldiers were suffering from a variety of maladies due to the long trek. When they noticed a hot spring pool, the travelers immediately jumped into the rare warmth. To their surprise, many soldiers were relieved of much of their pain soon after immersion. So, the water was considered "divine," and the emperor ordered a well to be dug at the location. Although this story is on the legendary side, the hot springs in Liaoyang certainly have advantages: They are uncommonly high in radon content, and at a maximum temperature of 72 degrees Celsius (162 degrees F), the water is effective treatment for many ailments such as high blood pressure and arthritis.

  Another of Liaoyang´s winter attractions is skiing. Gongshangling Ski Resort features several runs amidst towering alpine forests. Against blue winter skies, the white snow can blanket the mountain area for as much as four months of the year. The State General Administration of Sports designated the resort as an outdoor sports base for youngsters. More excitingly, hot springs are only a stone´s throw away, allowing visitors to soak in the warmth after gliding down the snowy hills. While relaxing in the springs, one can even marvel at those shooting down the slopes. As its fame steadily grows, the hotspot is becoming more and more crowded, attracting visitors from an increasingly wider radius.

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