The weather has finally dropped into the 40s in Kunming and people are forced to wear hats and mittens for the first time this winter. Alert the media! I wake up every morning and look out my window at the sun and some condensation and remember how last year in Dalian the gray sky could barely be seen through my frost-covered windows. I’m much more suited for this “Spring city” weather.
However, I’ve still come up with some tactics to brave this (barely cold) weather. Chinese homes and buildings are known to have very shoddy insulation (if any at all) and the government basically drew a line through the middle of China and said that the southern half does not need indoor heating (despite the sometimes freezing temperatures). Our apartment doesn’t get much sun, so it can be almost as cold inside as it is outside. Cue the indoor heaters, prevalant in most homes around Kunming.
Luckily the previous tenants left behind several space heaters, one of which (pictured above) I use in my room. It oscillates like a fan, and looks like a fan, except it has no blades. Somehow it heats itself up and radiates hot goodness all over my room. It has two heat settings and a timer, so it’s perfect to put on for about 20 minutes before I snuggle under my covers and go to bed. It takes the chill off when I’m grading at my desk too.
But sometimes I feel like all of that heat is sucking the moisture out of my body. That’s where my ducky humidifier comes in. He cost about US $15 at Chinese Wal Mart and was totally worth the investment.
Next to the ducky is another barnyard animal that helps me get through the winter chills– a pig! These electronic hot water bottle-esqe contraptions are all the rage here. You plug them in and the liquid inside heats up to a boil and then stays warm for hours to come. People (usually women) who have desk jobs sit at the computer and type with one of these hot pads in their lap. I even saw a lady at the bank today with one. Maybe she carries it around town while she does errands? I’m not sure but I’ve also heard that people put it in the bed to make the sheets toasty before bedtime. Right now Miss Piggy is laying on my feet, warming up my ten little piggies.
Another part of my winter routine is drinking lots and lots of hot water. Last year I drank boiled water at my apartment because Margaret and I were too cheap to buy a water dispenser and you can’t drink tap water here. Chinese believe that drinking cold water is bad for your health/digestion/body so freshly boiled water is routinely served at restaurants. I’ve gotten used to this habit, and now I even prefer hot water to cold water most of the time. Especially at this time of year. Luckily enough, Jess and I have an awesome water heater that boils water in seconds. It’s perfect because every morning I fill a travel mug with hot water that I take on the bus to sip and keep my hands warm.
To get into the holiday spirit around the house, I hung up a quilted wallhanging that my mom gave to me last year. This is what you see when you first walk into the apartment.
And last but not least, another thing putting me in the Christmas mood is Christmas cards. I wrote a couple today, and hopefully over the next few days I’ll write more and get them sent so that they can get to their respective houses around the world before Christmas day.
As if he knew I was writing this post, a student just sent me a text saying, “It is very cold today, take care. There is no more spring city. haha.” Hope you are all staying warm, wherever you are!