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". God forbid you should suddenly feel the need to use the facility. Then you would get to experience the joy of riding a cold toilet seat as well."
- Randall van der Woning

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China

A different kind of cold
by Randall van der Woning, Hong Kong
Mar 5, 2000

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So here are a few survival tips:

  1. Dress properly. This is the tricky part. Let's say it is only 8C in the morning. By noon, the temperature could be as high as 16C. If you overdress, you will perspire and feel hot and sticky all day long. If you under dress, the wind will be a miserable, warmth-robbing companion all day long. Many offices, restaurants and shops leave the air conditioning cranked up regardless of the weather. As a result, heading indoors often offers little respite from the chill. On the other hand, dashing into a frosty-cold mall to escape the oppressive heat of summer can give you a stroke.

  2. Buy a heater. We purchased a radiating heater, which keeps our bedroom nice and warm as we sleep. However, it does nothing for the rest of the flat, unless we move it into another room, and even then it takes a while to warm the room.

    Thus, showers become an adventure. The first major challenge is undressing. The shirt is always the last thing to come off. Then there is that brief but invigorating bare-ass naked walk across the freezing ceramic tile floor. God forbid you should suddenly feel the need to use the facility. Then you would get to experience the joy of riding a cold toilet seat as well.

    The next step is to quickly crank on the hot water without scalding yourself in the process. As soon as the temperature is set where you like it, step in. Ahhhhhhh. Pure ecstasy. Then comes the really difficult part, turning off the hot water. The cold air instantly steals over your flesh and robs it of all the stored-up heat. Goosebumps pop up all over your body, including those two large pinkish areas on your chest. So you towel dry in 3.2 seconds, and dress in a minute and a half. This actually can be beneficial if you happen to accidentally sleep in.

  3. Drink hot liquids. Winter is the time to avoid cold beverages. Hot tea or soup can really help warm you from the inside and fend off the cold. Chilled drinks will make you shiver until your fillings loosen.

Aside from these tips, you could dress like the locals. They are still running around in down-filled coats, scarves, toques (pronounced like 'kook' - that's a knitted wool cap to my American friends), and so on. When I tell them about the winters in Canada, they simply cannot fathom the depth of that kind of cold. As for the bwg, I seem to be managing the cold well enough. A t-shirt and jacket is good enough most days when the temperature exceeds 14C. When it hits 20C, even the jacket is too much.

And soon enough, all of this will be but a memory. April is creeping up just around the corner, and with the increase in temperature, typhoon season will begin anew. When summer kicks into full gear, everyone will be complaining about the heat. Guess I'll have to get rid of the side of beef before then.

How I spent the Chinese New Year here

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