Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Hot hot hot!

July 29, 2009

Last night as I was watching the SBS world news, the weather came on where a 3D globe slowly rotates and they show the temperature of each individual country. As it rolled around to China, it showed both Shanghai and Beijing sitting at around 31 degrees; a big jump up from the 15 degrees that Melbourne is currently (not) enjoying. I thought back to when we were there, suffering through those few months of summer where the humidity had temperatures feeling a good 10+ degrees hotter than they actually were. While a day in Wuxi might have been 28-30 on the weather charts, when humidity was taken into account, the actual temperature really felt somewhere around the 43-45 degree mark.


There were days that were so hot it was unbearable. You would wake up in the morning afer a night of air-conditioning flicking – leaving the air-conditioner on lead to sore throats, and would often be too cold regardless. As soon as you hopped out of bed you would feel unpleasant, but as long as you had AC, it wasn’t too bad. You’d shower and feel somewhat refreshed, then get dressed and head out for the day in t-shirt, shorts and sandals. You could never wear socks and shoes, it was simply too hot. And then, as soon as you went outside, you felt the need to shower again.


The humidity was various degrees of disgusting. You became used to living with a constant sheen of sweat all over your body, with large wet patches beneath your armpits. You would reach around and feel your back beneath your top and it was completely soaked – dripping. As you walked around feeling uncomfortable, you would notice that the Chinese were wearing long pants and long shirts; completely dry. While some walked around in jeans and regular wear, others – mainly older men, walked around in rolled up singlets with their big bellies sticking out, fanning themselves with hand-made bamboo paddles.


Some days I miss China so much that it almost makes me feel anxious. I feel like I need to go back there to get it out of my system. Other days I remember specifics such as the almost unbearable Summer and I am happy to live in a country with a much more moderate temperature.


Spring has sprung!

March 12, 2009

Well in China at any rate. In Australia we have just ticked over the threshold from Summer into Autumn and already the temperature starts its decline into what we like to call freezing. However, having now experienced China’s winter I can safely say that the ‘freezing’ that us Melbournians complain about is in fact absolutely nothing!

When we arrived in China it was mid-february and freezing cold. On top of this, all plant-life had either shed its summer coats or was completely brown. We had arrived after a period of severe snowfall – something that was quite rare for the part of China we were in – Wuxi in Jiangsu Province. Due to the snow, all surviving grasses were brown and pressed down like some kind of weird natural carpet.

Whilst the weather was freezing requiring the constant use of jacket and gloves, when the season ticked over to Spring there was an almost amazing transition. The weather heated up in such a way it was like flicking on a heater. The gardens that were brown and flattened almost completely regenerated. Bushes that were dulled and brown some way somehow just re-grew themselves into a vibrant green – well vibrant as much as you get in China – the ever present smog has a way of making almost everything look dirty.

China is a land of extremes in the weather department. In the Summer it’s boiling hot and the winter, freezing cold. Having never lived in a country with such clean cut seasonal differences, I guess I was a lot more observant. It certainly put the mild weather of my home state of Victoria into perspective.

In Winter from this...

In Winter from this...

To this in Summer!

To this in Summer!

The sky is grey.

February 18, 2009

Recently, my home state of Victoria has been beset by ferocious bushfires. Approximately 7000 people have lost their homes with a death toll of 200 and climbing. Initially our Summer was quite mild, but by the second month it had kicked into top gear. Through mid to late January and then into February we had what became one of the hottest weeks on record, with days of temperatures over 43 degrees Celsius. We actually hit the record high of something like 45.6 degrees.

Smoke from country bushfires lingers over the city of Melbourne.

Smoke from country bushfires lingers over the city of Melbourne.

This extremely hot weather combined with a lengthy period without rain became the perfect combination for an absolutely terrible bushfire. Even today, over two weeks later the smoke still lingers in the sky.

The sky in Melbourne for this past week has resembled how the sky in China looks practially every day. The horizon a constant grey haze which leads into a light blue grey sky. On the heaviest smoke day, there was no cloud definition; just like China. The biggest difference however was in China, the visibility is 100 times worse. In Melbourne, despite the haze, you can still see a very long way; in China – it gets so smoggy it’s just outright disgusting.

Smoke from factorys and man made pollutants lingers over China..permanantly.

Smoke from factorys and man made pollutants lingers over China..permanantly.

The Australian Open

January 20, 2009

Melbourne Park, Melbourne.

Today, in blistering 41 degree weather, we spent several hours at the Australian Open. It was a bright sunny day, but man, was it hot. Funny that it should be this kind of temperature where just one post ago I was saying how I was glad that Melbourne’s Summer had been somewhat cooler than normal! It’s not uncommon for the Australian Open to be hit with heatwaves however. We often watch these poor players with uncontrollable sweat running down their faces battling it out – and on some occasions, calling it a day due to sheer heat exhaustion.

We watched a set or so of Richard Gasquet versus Diego Junqueira(Gasquet going on to win), but the heat was very difficult to deal with. While there was not the humidity of China, there was the burning sun in a clear blue sky. In China, while the heat was oppressive, the sun was not often out(when it came out..look out!). The sun was usually hidden behind cloud/smog cover – keeping the humidity in with nowhere to go. But in Sunny that Sun had bite.


Jie Zheng belting out a powerful shot.

Retiring from the court – which other than what you brought with you, was completely lacking in shade, we grabbed some cooling sushi, some water, then wandered around the other courts. We settled in and watched some games between China’s Jie Zheng and France’s Camille Pin. Zheng went on to beat her 6-3, 6-3. I found myself rooting for the Chinese player. I said to Courtney, “If there were no aussies playing, I’d go for the Chinese players.” I feel like I have this affiliation with the country.

We sat there smiling at an enthusiastic Chinese guy on the opposite side of the court. He was waving his large Chinese flag when not using it as a cape(aka protection from the sun). He would start a cheer, “Jie Zheng! Jie Zheng!”, pronouncing her name correctly, sounding like “Jong”, while the referee in true clueless westerner style pronounced it as “Jeng.” I suppose it’s good they at least had the ZH = J sound right, though you cant expect everyone to know every other cultures pronuciations I guess – particularly Chinese where some of them are really quite difficult and completely different to english(ie: zh, ts, x etc).

It was also great to hear some of the Chinese spectators chatting. Whenever we hear Chinese being spoken, our ears prick up, recognizing words. Hearing things like xiexie and ZhongGuo! ZhongGuo! (China! China!) really floats our boat!

Anyhow it was a great day though marred by the extreme weather. It hit 41 before cooling down in the late afternoon. We didn’t particularly favour being burnt to a crisp so retired early. We rounded out the day with a nice fish and salad meal and a long soak in the spa. Next year we’ll try and get to the open again. We were sad not to be able to catch the tennis in Shanghai while we were in China. For anyone interested in going to the Australian Open, we highly reccomend it.

Gasquest vs Junqueira

Gasquet vs Junqueira

Climate Change

January 19, 2009

Sunset over TianYi

One of the most difficult aspects of living in China for me was the different climate. All my life I have lived in the state of Victoria in Australia. Melbourne is famously known for its ‘four seasons in one day’ weather. Melbourne can get hot during summer and cold during winter, but never too extreme. If there’s a heatwave – you may see a few scorchers in a row, but always, inevitably, there’s a cool change around the corner. You endure knowing the cool change will arrive. When it does, the doors and windows are flung open, and the house is immediately cooled.

Likewise in Winter, it gets cold and rainy, but it’s never too bad. Sure we complain, and nothing cures the cold better that a nice hot coffee, but we dont get snow and well, it’s very bearable. There are parts of Australia that do suffer weather extremes, but Victoria is really quite comfortable.

Now China on the other hand, was completely different to Victoria. We left for China in February 2008. The day of our departure was a very hot 35 degrees. We arrived in China underdressed(still partially in summer clothes – though did have the forsight to bring at least warm tops) to an absolutely freezing 8 degrees. I knew it would be around 10 or so and thought – yeah it wont be too much different from Melbourne’s winter – WRONG! It was absolutely freezing! My face felt weird – stinging – in the cold air. For the remaining wintry period, my lips remained parched and chapped.

And then it ticked over to Spring. Almost overnight the air became warm – alarmingly so. We knew China suffered oppressively hot weather during Summer, but just how warm Spring got was very concerning. As the days went by, it got hotter and hotter. The air grew thicker. Soon we could wear nothing more than t-shirts, shorts and sandals or we’d be dripping in sweat. As Summer approached it was already a Victorian Summer, except with one month of Spring to go! We were getting a little worried about just what Summer might bring with it.


In China there are cities known as the Three Furnaces due to their extreme heat during Summer. They are the cities of Nanjing, Chongching and Wuhan. We were not in either, but Wuxi was not too far from Nanjing. We expected a hot one! I had read on an expat forum that Wuxi experienced something like 4 months of Winter, 6 months of Summer, and 2 months of pure torture. And yeah, it totally was!

We had picked one of those months to travel around China as we had 2 months holiday for the Chinese summer break. Thankfully that travelling took us to cooler parts of China, such as Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La, though our time in cities such as Beijing, Xi’an and Chengdu was really difficult. Prior to leaving, back in Wuxi, the humidity had skyrocketed. You would leave the air-conditioned apartment only to be instantly dripping with sweat. You felt wet, clammy, tired. You got used to having permanant wet patches all over your clothing. We would check the weather guide and see things like 35  – feels like 45. And it did! It was just disgusting! I used to crack up at how I would be dripping sweat in shorts and shirts, while the Chinese would walk around in jeans and full length shirts or jumper style tops and be unaffected. Adapability I guess.

I couldn’t live in this kind of extreme climate. Call me a wuss! In far northern Queensland, in towns like Port Douglas which likewise suffer extreme humidity summers, they at least have beaches and pools everywhere. In China, you have to settle for a piece of shade and a slice of cooling watermelon – oh and air conditioning. Some days it was just too much effort to actually leave our apartment. And of course at night we got to enjoy all the fun that goes along with insane numbers of mosquitoes.

One of the things I was not looking forward to about returning Australia was going through another Summer. I’d just experienced over 5 months of it in China – the last 3 were outright disgusting. But thankfully we’re having one of the coolest Summers in years, and well, I’m not complaining!

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