Every year, when December hits, Hong Kong’s winter goes into full swing.
We usually start to complain (and dig out our North Face puffer jackets) when the temperature drops to below 20C. Though I’m talking about when the thermostat hits 13C, or even — gasp — single digits. Cue cold weather warnings from the Hong Kong Observatory.
People in other countries ridicule us. “That’s nothing!” They say. “Here where I am, it is 1 degree Celsius and snowing.”
This is not about how Hong Kong weather is mild and much more comfortable than countries that see snow. It is an explainer on why our winters suck so much more.
First, we have Hong Kong’s humidity to thank for this. There is much debate about the effects a wet climate has on the human body and whether this makes us feel colder in winter — but either way, a shiver-inducing damp cold never feels great. Our winters will never have the crisp, dry, refreshingly cold airs in the snowy utopias of Japan, Scandinavia, or wherever people who actually enjoy being freezing like to go on Christmas vacation.
But even if you stayed here — a place that is, I admit, relatively warmer than most of the world at this time of year — it is a coastal city at the mercy of northeast monsoon winds.
Hong Kong’s buildings are constructed to let the heat out, owing to the sub-tropical climate we have for most of the year. See all those glitzy skyscrapers with floor-to-ceiling windows we have in our skyline? Pray for the office workers who have to sit in one of these. That’s not all: many office buildings with centralized air conditioning systems are usually still blasting out cold air in the middle of December and January.
Our lack of central heating also becomes an issue during cold snaps. Other people in cold countries go home, get into their pyjamas, and enjoy the warmth from their radiators. Here, we huddle by our space heaters, walk around with seven layers of clothing, and rely on thick duvets while sleeping. And yes, I know not everyone turns on their heating all the time in cold countries, but at least the option is there.
So what can we do now, other than complain to our friends/in a column?
Spend your time looking forward to that one weirdly hot day that usually rolls around in February. You know the drill: go to the beach, post photos on Instagram, make haters in cold countries jealous.
All Tea No Shade with Andrea Lo.
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