Sunday, February 03, 2008

Cold in Hong Kong?

This past week, the cold weather reports out of China have been horrible. Newspapers are filled with photos of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers stranded at southern train stations as they try to head north for the Chinese New Year holidays. We read today of people without heat or water for close to two weeks now in the northern provinces of China. Seeing China turn its focus to daily survival reminds Phil and I very much, on a whole host of levels, of winter and life in Eastern Europe.

While China's cold weather is sad, Hong Kong’s cold weather is not. Temperatures have been low in Hong Kong but hardly more than cool. I saw a weatherman on CNN last week who summed it up well. He reminded viewers that while the temperatures in Hong Kong were only around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Farenheit), Hong Kong residents are just not used to that type of cold weather. I have to admit this is true. It is confusing to be swimming outside and applying sunscreen one week and then digging through your storage for a sweatshirt the next.

Apparently last week’s cold weather was the coldest on record and worse weather is yet to come. The Hong Kong Observatory has issued a severe cold warning for the past 10 days now. The warning is issued when temperatures in Central are below 10 degrees Celsius. The warning includes directions to dress warmly and more importantly to check heaters in one’s homes. Many Hong Kong apartments, built for warm weather, don’t even have heaters of any kind and ad hoc measures, such as open flames, can be dangerous. We ourselves have a couple of space heaters out and about and the kids love putting their pajamas on the heaters to warm them up before bedtime. Adam actually noted the warmth of his bedroom and did what he usually does in that situation. He turned on the air conditioning.

As we headed into Chinese New Year (starting February 7th this year), my kids are resisting putting coats over their Chinese costumes and such. At a recent New Year’s party, it was cold enough for the kids to take off their short sleeve silk costumes and actually put on sweaters and coats (coats we have from our Maryland days). If the cold weather persists, we may even have to start wearing socks with our Crocs!


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