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"From December until about March, the cold monsoon winds sweep in from China, and it tends to get quite chilly. As cold as Canada? Of course not. But it is a different type of cold, a wet cold."
- Randall van der Woning

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China

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

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Coming from Canada, the bwg is used to cold weather. But the past few weeks of winter monsoons have been an interesting experience.

We'll begin with a comparison. For those of you not acquainted with the pleasures of a Canadian winter, let me paint a picture for you. It's dark. The sun grudgingly comes up for a few hours between 9.00am and 4.00pm and then packs it in. The wind is whipping down from the North at a brisk 60 kilometers per hour. The outside air temperature is about -35C. The wind and the cold combine for a wind chill factor of about -72C. Basically, it is cold enough to freeze off any exposed body parts in about 30 seconds. The funny thing is, -35C in the Canadian Northwest Territories is considered balmy.

But no matter how cold it gets, it is a dry cold. Arctic air is as dry as the desert, and this is a good thing. If you dress properly, you will be able to deal with the cold and stay fairly warm. I grew up in that environment, and believe it or not, it is something you learn to deal with.

When people think of Hong Kong, they think of heat, and that is exactly what they get, most of the time. In the summer, the heat and humidity can drain you of energy, so you study the heat index. But do not forget, Hong Kong is only sub-tropical. From December until about March, the cold monsoon winds sweep in from China, and it tends to get quite chilly. As cold as Canada? Of course not. But it is a different type of cold, a wet cold.

In Canada, everyone has indoor heating. Houses are built of wood and are well-insulated. Natural gas furnaces provide nice toasty air and the houses stay warm and cozy. In Hong Kong, flats are mostly made of concrete. There is no indoor heating, and no insulation. Hence, when the monsoon winds are blowing, combined with an overnight temperature of 8C and the dampness of 90% humidity, the flat is almost cold enough to hang meat. The chill is pervasive. It creeps through the flesh all the way to your bones.

Tips for "survival"..

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