When folks heard that we’re moving to China for a few years, one common comment I heard is,
“Wow…so fun! You get to experience the four seasons!!! Not like us here in Malaysia, only hot or rainy.”
Living with summer, autumn, winter and spring is not as FUN as as the media would have you believe.
Now that I’ve clocked one year in China, here’s what life through the four seasons are for each family member:
– Starts the middle of May, peaks in June and lasts until August. Blistering tempertures starting from 28 deg C to heatstroke-causing highs of 34 dec C. No sane person on the streets between 11 am to 4 pm.
Everyone’s air-conditioner is turned on the whole day and night. To regulate body temperature, I maintain 27 deg C but once we had to turn it down to 25 deg C. Coughs to share everywhere. Everyone stops at the juice bar 2-3 times a day. The swimming pool and beach is C-R-O-W-D-E-D with Chinese faces, squeals and splashes. Ice-creams for dessert!
Toddler – In singlet, shorts and sandals. SWEATS like a pig no matter what he does. Bathes twice a day.
Mother – At home, in the thinnest and oldest tank tops and shorts. After cooking over the hot stove, I feel faint and runs to the cool hall to recuperate! A few friends also complain of dizzy spells, headaches and breathlessness, which are signs of heat stroke. Drinks water like a horse. Guilty of looking like a real auntie with flip-flops when meeting son after from school.
I take the taxi everywhere and painfully see RMB8-18 gone for various trips. I think I spent RMB500-800 a month for taxi alone during the early months I dropped off and picked up my toddler at preschool. The bus costs RMB2, which we only take during the weekends heading for the mall. Taxi back with the groceries!
Father – At work, he’s in short-sleeved shirts and slacks. At home, he’s in the thinnest t-shirt and shorts. Refuses to wear singlets due to armpit hair and beer belly LOL Suggests ice-cream for dessert EVERYDAY. Buys fresh juice for family regularly. Faithfully tops up ice-tray in the fridge.
– Begins around end Aug when the temperature drops from 29 deg C to a pleasant 27 deg C during the day and night. The only hitches are lots of rain and well, TYPHOONS!!!
September and October (except the first week of October, which is their NATIONAL holiday) are the BEST months for travel in China.
Toddler and mother– During the day, he’s in long-sleeved cotton t-shirts and jeans. At night, just long-sleeved cotton pyjamas. I use the summer quilt filled with cotton or polyester.
Father – At work, he’s in long-sleeved work shirts and pants. At night, he’s in t-shirts and sweat pants.
Father and son sleep without the quilt. Toddler kicks off quilt even while asleep if I put it over him!
No sun, smelly clothes, smelly bolster. Food doesn’t spoil easily too. Great weather for walks! I save on taxi fare because the bus is only RMB1 per trip (no air-cond needed)
The weather is cold graduating from 24 deg C (day) and 19 deg C (nights) to 12-15 deg C and as low as 5-10 deg C. Nobody eats ice-cream in McDonald’s 🙂 Some strong (or silly) girls CAN still wear tights and frilly skirts with boots. The Chinese steamboat restaurants are packed.
Travel during winter around Fujian (south-east China) is quite pleasant…what chills you in China is the WIND, which brings tears to my eyes, makes me stuff my hands in my pockets and hunch my shoulders.
Life is already hard in winter without snow. I know it’d be tough if you have snow, sleet, slush, ice, hailstorms, blizzards, snowstorms…my hats off to those in Alaska, Beijing, Canada, Russia and everyone else in the northern hemisphere and Antartica!
Toddler – During the day, he’s in thermal underwear, quilted pyjamas and socks at home. If we go out, I’d add a thick coat with hood over his suit. He REJECTED mittens but agreed to a hat when I wore one too. When he wasn’t potty trained, I had a tiring 12-step routine each time he pooed!
At night, he needs long johns, quilted pyjamas and a fleece/wool sweater plus thick/wool socks and a wool/silk quilt. Can you imagine the scenario when his diaper overflows with urine during the night? We have to change EVERYTHING.
Oh yes, he also needs frequent moisturizing as his eczema acts up! High maintenance, man, this toddler…
Now that it’s early winter and he’s in school, he’s in long-sleeved turtleneck thick cotton shirts, corduroys or fleece-lined pants, thick socks and a fleece jacket. I need to pack extra 2 shirts, pants and underwear. Just in case he pees through his pants or sweats through his shirts.
Mother – During the day, I wear thermal underwear on top of regular underwear, a wool (fleece isn’t warm enough for me) sweater and corduroys and thick socks. Once, I even wore ski pants! And gloves when I was blogging LOL
At night, I only swap the corduroys for thick, fleece pants and change to wool socks. If it’s not too cold, I can wear a fleecy bathrobe-pyjama pant suit ensemble which is warming and attractive…at least if you like a giant PINK bunny shuffling around.
I’ll also sip DOM during those cold winter nights to keep warm.
If I’m having my period, Hubby stays far, far away as I’m SUPER GROUCHY – going to the toilet is annoying enough with 3 layers to pull down and pull up so having to deal with pads etc is enough to make anyone a SNARLING, SNAPPING, SMOKE-PUFFING DRAGON for at least 4 days!
Father – Daytime, thermal undershirt, wool sweater and corduroys or cotton slacks. He only needs a waterproof winter coat with a hood when he goes out.
At nights, in full thermal underwear, a cotton/fleece pyjama suit, topped with a wool sweater and thick cotton socks. Silk/wool quilt which is sometimes not even fully drawn up. Sometimes, he even has the nerve to turn to this pupa in the cocoon and say,
“Brrrrr…perfect weather for sleeping!”
Meat thaws really slowly but fruits, vegetables and overnight food don’t rot 🙂
– Interestingly, it’s the COLDEST period for China since it’s usually January or February when it’s the Chinese New Year, the peak of winter. I escaped it last year since we flew back for Chinese New Year but next year, I’ll know how COLD (-2-5 deg C?) it is as we’ll be back when preschool starts.
The only thing I notice now that is that Chinese New Year clothes are thick and padded with furry collars. Thankfully, I’ll be wearing a summer qipao…
All in all, living with the four seasons is EXPENSIVE and involves a lot of packing and unpacking of clothes out of cupboards into storage boxes or vice versa.
As the weather grows colder, I think about the Sichuan earthquake victims and all the poor people in China who live in the colder regions. I believe many people die during the winter due to lack of food, clothing and heating.
NOTE: In many parts of south and south-eastern China, the average apartment/home does not come with heating thus clothing is all you have to keep you warm.
Last year, we suffered a bit as we only had a portable heater for the coldest nights. At least we had hot water. This year, I’m thankful we have hot water, heated lamps for the bathroom and the portable heater.