Yang Guifei and
Huaqing Hot Spring
(Huaqing Chi 華清池)

Yang Guifei is one the four Chinese Beauties. Huaqing Hot Spring is made famous by her love story with Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty. However it is made famous to the world by Xian Incident which happened here seventy years ago.

Huaqing Chi is an extremely tempting place. Its history is incomparably brilliant and colorful. No other Chinese royal garden or resort can compare with it.

Nowadays, the highlight of a Huaqing Hot Spring tour isn’t hot spring. Most people come here to witness the place where Xian Incident took place. I’ll talk about this in detail.

Huaqing Chi was originally named Li Palace because it was built on the foot of Li Mountain. It was first built in the Dynasty of Zhou, and subsequently restored in Qin, Han, Sui and Tang.

The name Huaqing was given by King Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty. He re-built the place and turned it to a royal hot spring resort. He came here annually for 36 times.

Huaqing Chi was made famous by a poem Forever Sorrow. Even after 1,300 years, most Chinese can recite part or most of the poem.

“Bath at Huaqing Chi in time of chilly spring; rinsed her silky skin in slick hot water spring.” This is an extraction from Forever Sorrow. It described the love story between King Xuanzong and Yang Guifei.

Anna and Yang Guifei

The mineral water here is constant at 43 degrees Celsius. You can take a 5-star or economic bath at a nearby hotel.

Chinese generally appreciate a balance between hill and water. Huaqing Chi has a perfect match. It was built on the foot of Li Mountain. The mirror-like Nine-Dragon Lake is surrounded by lush greeneries. Yang Guifei’s nude figure stands at side of the lake. Together with winding bridges, veranda and pavilions, the place is charmingly picturesque.

Note: On July 7 (Chinese calendar) 2006, the Nine-Dragon Lake was turned into the floor for the Forever Sorrow Dancing Show. Yang Guife's nude figure was relocated. The lake is no longer opened to public. My photo on the left becomes a historical photo.

Yang Guifei and Huaqing Chi
Though Huaqing Chi is beautiful, I am sure you’ll find what you hear is far more fascinating than what you see. Here are three stories that your tour guide must tell.

  • Forever Sorrow – Love story between King Xuanzong and Yang Guifei. (755)
  • Made a fool of state emperors by lighting false signal fire. (around 2,500 years from now)
  • Xian Incident. (1936)
Now let me tell you one by one. They are true stories and are written in history books.

Forever Sorrow 長恨歌

Yang Guifei

“Bath at Huaqing Chi in time of chilly spring;
rinsed her silky skin in slick hot water spring.”

Bai Juyi

Yang Guifei was famous for her beauty. Huaqing Chi was famous for Yang having bathed here.

Yang Yuhuan, royal title Yang Guifei, was King Xuanzong’s only beloved consort. She was one among the Four Beauties in ancient China.

Unlike nowadays, Tang people only admired plump women. Yang Guifei was a typical plump beauty.

Having a bath in a hot spring was relaxing and refreshing. What about watching your most beloved woman in bath? How romantic? Unfortunately, Forever Sorrow didn’t mention weather the King watched or not. Ancient Chinese seldom touch sexy topics.

By name of the poem, you can tell the romantic story ended in tragedy.

Ancient Chinese parents discriminated girls. However Yang Guifei changed the world. At her time, parents no more favored baby boys. They all looked forward to baby girls. They just wanted their daughter to be Yang the second.

King Xuanzong was madly in love with her. He was doing less and less in his daily work. Actually he didn’t have to, because Tang was a strong and wealthy empire.

Golden days didn’t last forever. An Lushan rebelled. The world had been in peace for long. (This phrase was widely written in history books.) That said, soldiers were not prepared to; and didn’t know how to fight a war any more. In six months’ time, rebellions were knocking on the door of capital city Xian.

Here came the rebellions knocking at the front door. There went the King slipped away from the back door. Of course he took with him Yang Guifei and his private guarding troops.

The King was shocked by the troops’ strike when they passed by Maweipo. Soldiers requested to hang Yang Guifei in order to resume duty.

In ancient imperial China, people were trained to obey the King blindly. Even if they were ordered to die, they wouldn’t ask for a reason. Yang Guifei though not a queen, was actually their First Lady. Why soldiers wanted to hang her?

Well, remember Yang turned the world from favoring boys to girls. Because of her, the Yang family overrode all other government officers. They bribed, not well-educated, with poor-manner, however held the most important posts in the government.

The Yang family had all the fame, wealth and prestige that they didn’t deserve. They made people angry for long, however kept silent.

Yang’s brother Guozong had conflict with An Lushan, the rebellion leader. Yang Guifei was therefore held responsible for causing the riot, disturbing the world’s peace and putting people in trouble.

Despite the King’s crying and begging, he just couldn’t save Yang. Soldiers had absolute negotiation power, as rebellions were just after them.

Yang Guifei was hanged. The King was in forever sorrow.

Making a Fool of State Emperors by Lighting False Signal Fire
Here is another true story also happened in Huaqing Chi, but 1,000 years before Yang Guifei was born. Huaqing Chi was called Li Palace at that time. The emperors of Western Zhou Dynasty named it after Li Mountain, because it was built on its foot.

King Youwang had a consort Bosi who was extremely beautiful, however never smiled. The King tried every way to please her. However Bosi didn’t seem to be interested in anything.

One day the King came up with a crazy idea. He took Bosi from Li Palace up to Li Mountain. He then placed an order to light signal fire. Upon seeing the smoke and fire, state emperors took their troops and rush to Xian. Bosi laughed at last.

Well, I think you can tell why Bosi laughed. It was because she witnessed the state emperors being made a fool of.

In the ancient times lighting signal fire was kind of calling help. That was an agreement between the allied King of Zhou and the state emperors. If signal fire was lighted, it meant the King was in danger. Therefore everybody rushed to rescue him.

This story though equally famous like Forever Sorrow, nothing could be visualized. You can only look at Huaqing Chi and Li Mountain and imagine, as it happened 2,500 years.

Xian Incident
Yang Guifei made Huaqing Chi famous. However it was Xian Incident that made people wanted to come here.

It was not a love story. It was a political event.

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