Monday, July 1, 2013


This is, by far, the most annoying, unpleasant and generally ridiculous part of Hong Kong, and China in general. 


Hong Kong is hot.  Painfully, humidly, stickily hot.  It's absolutely unlivable.  I can't walk more than two blocks before I start sweating, and if I walk more than five, I look like I've just worked out.  It's abhorrent.  90 degrees and 90% humidity.  It actually makes you feel heavier and harder to breathe.  You find yourself taking elevators in places you'd normally take the stairs because most elevators have AC. 

I've lived in places with weather like this before - possibly slightly less humid since it wasn't subtropical, but in 17 years in Texas I saw my fair share of heat.  But you know what we did when it was hot as balls?  STAYED INSIDE.  You went from your air conditioned house to your air conditioned car (that hopefully had stayed all night in a garage or covered place) and drove to your air conditioned work, and were outside in the horrible death heat for approximately 5 total minutes if you really tried.

Here I don't have a car.  I have a subway.  What's the problem with the subway?  It's not 10 feet from my house, that's what.  By the time I make it to the subway, I look like I've run a marathon and my nice work clothes are sticky and smelly.  I feel dirty within 2 minutes of exiting my building.  I want to take 7 showers a day.  It's fucking ridiculous.  So you'd think, having this climate of excruciatingly balls-hot days and a lot of unnecessary outdoor time, that Hong Kongers would appreciate a large, cold bottle of water.

NOPE.  One of the first places I went to eat, I asked for water.  I drink tea, water, and whatever's in the alcoholic beverage I'm given.  I try to stay hydrated, seeing as I've fainted twice in the past 9 months and had to get an IV.  Anyway, I ask for water.  The woman looked at me oddly.  Perhaps she didn't understand - there's sometimes a language barrier with the older generations.  "Ice water?" I ask, trying to clarify.

Still confusion.  "Bottle water?"  Finally one of my Chinese classmates was able to tell her I just wanted a glass of water, to which she STILL looked like I'd asked for a pig's blood frappucino, but walked away seeming to understand.  About three minutes later, I see her returning with a glass of water, sadly ice-free.  She sets it in front of me and I'm about to pick it up when I notice it's HOT water.  Not room temperature.  HOT ASS WATER.  She had to put EFFORT into making it hot, because things are not naturally steaming.  Why the fuck would I want a GLASS of HOT WATER?  I already have HOT TEA that's for the table, I obviously need something to, I don't know, STOP ME FROM SWEATING?  Do you not see that I'm soaking through my shirt here, lady?

It was at this time I was informed by our chaperones and my Chinese friends that cold things (drinks, food, whatever) are considered "bad" for your health.  I mean Chinese medicine is wacky enough, but to completely restrict the drinking of cold beverages in a climate that melts my makeup off in record time?  That's fucking ridiculous. 

I began to take note of things as time progressed - most people in restaurants do not order a drink.  Yeah you heard me.  No drink.  If it's a Chinese restaurant it often comes with hot tea, which is good, but I have to let it cool down to "room temperature" tea before I can even consider drinking it.  Then you stuff yourself with HOT FOOD.  If you order noodles or soup, it's inedibly hot for ten minutes, unless your mouth is a steel machine like the natives.  After the first bite I'm dying for a cold glass of SOMETHING, but instead I just have to keep eating my hot food and sweating as though I was walking around outside. 

At the places that DO have iced drinks, they COST MORE.  The food court has a combo option of a meal plus a drink - but if you want a cold drink, that's $3 more.  WHAT??  I honestly can't believe these people aren't passing out left and right, since I never see them drink water.  EVER.  They might get a small hot tea, or a small coffee, but all damn day I haven't seen a single Asian drinking water.  HOW DO THEY HYDRATE??  Even McDonald's, which has bottled water on the menu, does not understand how to substitute a BOTTLE OF WATER for the requisite soft drink in a combo order.  I asked for one once, pointed to it on the menu, and it required a conference of three employees to figure out how to charge me.

Sadly I've realized that in any vaguely non-Western restaurant the only way I'll get a cold drink is to order a soda.  I don't drink soda.  I don't even particularly enjoy it anymore, despite drinking about 10 Dr. Peppers a day when I was in high school.  But I will set aside pretty much all drink restrictions just to have something that I know came out of the refrigerator.  So here I am, living in a climate that makes me sweat out all liquid in a ten-minute period and not being able to find something to replenish said liquid at any normal place where you EAT AND DRINK. 

Since the first week, I have begun hoarding large bottles of water I buy at 7/11 downstairs in my tiny mini-fridge.  I'm pretty sure I'm the only one buying the water.  I just can't wrap my head around walking around all day, sweating my ass off and NOT finding great pleasure in the consuming coldest water (or other drink of choice) humanly possible.  Now I understand my dad's crazed ice-Nazi behavior when we went to Europe - room temperature is not ok.  And 3 ice cubes is not enough.  But that's damn well better than a glass of hot water after you've just walked 10 blocks in 90 degree heat and humidity.

I follow up with three questions:

1) How the hell am I the only person with glistening, sweaty skin at any point in the day when I'm generally wearing less clothing than say, oh, ANYONE?

2) Why the hell are you wearing JEANS and LONG SLEEVES?

3) In a place that used to be owned by Britain, how on earth have you not figured out that Westerners like a cold drink every now and then?  SERIOUSLY WTF.


  1. It's totally true. I had that problem in China, Korea and Japan. Fortunately, I was there in November...and it was cold, not hot. But you had to buy bottled water. At least their tap water is safe to drink!!!

    Do you have enough money to buy a small fridge and hoard bottles of water in your room?

  2. I am shocked that you can't get a GD glass of water in a restaurant. I drink a bathtub full of water per day and would likely die in said environment. Also "pig's blood frappuccino" make me laugh aloud.

  3. Hong Kong may have been English but the saying, "only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun," shows how they managed the heat. Not very well.

  4. Oh I would absolutely DIE! I sweat thru my clothes in summer here, and I DO have sufficient A/C and tons of cold water. And I could not drink soda, so I would likely die of dehydration within 48 hours! I don't see how cold water isn't a thing there!


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