Yes, yes I know it is only the beginning of November, but already the weather here in Weifang has dropped to the low forty’s/ high thirty’s. Anyone who knows me knows that there is nothing I hate more than being cold and if the weather over the last weekend is anything to go by then I am in for a very long winter indeed. Luckily, I have learned of some pretty ingenious methods people in China use stay warm. So here are the top 5 tips for surviving winter in China.
1. Always wear fur lined tights and leggings.
I bought a pair of these babies over the weekend and I am in love with them. They are thick, knit tights with fur lining on the inside. This is apparently how so many Chinese women are able to walk around in skirts and little dresses when the weather drops to below thirty. They just wear these instead of regular nylon tights and they’re ready to take on the world. Genius. Also a bonus: they are only the equivalent of $10 USD, so if anyone wants a pair when I come back to the states, put your requests in now.
2. Invest in a durable down puffer jacket.
These are highly fashionable and popular in China. Every store sells them in varying styles, colors, and quality. You can find some ranging from $25 to $150 USD. I have yet to have one of my own, but it is definitely on my agenda in the next couple weeks to purchase one for myself.
3. Find ways to take hot showers, by any means necessary.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, this is China and everything is always just a little more complicated than it should be. Take for example, our shower situation. Our apartment water heater is actually powered by a solar panel, which is great and environmentally friendly and everything… until we have a week like this one where it has been overcast and rainy for five days straight. No sun = no hot water. Great.
So as I was suffering through my freezing cold shower last night, I began to reminisce about the bucket showers I took in Africa. “At least the family I lived with boiled the water so it was always hot,” I thought to myself fondly. Ding! Lightbulb. I’ll take a bucket shower! I quickly said “screw you” to my cold shower and got out and began to heat up some water with our electric kettle. I poured the steaming water into one of our buckets and walked past my scoffing roommate into the bathroom. “You laugh now,” I told her, “but just you wait. You’ll be doing this too pretty soon.”
Now, I will be the first to say that crouching over a bucket and pouring water over oneself is not the most dignified way to take a shower. However, it is very effective. So, if given the choice between my dignity and warmth, well, then who really needs dignity?
4. Eat dumpling soup and hot pot every chance you get.
The quickest and most sure fire way to warm one’s body is always through one’s stomach. Nothing beats going into a restaurant on a cold day and ordering a nice hot bowl of soup. In China, you can always be guaranteed to find a dumpling restaurant and dumpling soup is always the way to go. You could also get a big group together and spring for some hotpot. Hot pot is essentially a type of stew where there are two varieties of stock or broth that are kept simmering on the table. You then cook different types of meats, veggies, seafood, wontons, dumplings, etc. into the broth and it is delicious.
5. If you ride a scooter, invest in a wind breaker and scooter gloves.
The primary modes of transportation in China are bicycles and scooters. You’ll see many people riding their scooters with big down blankets and handle bar gloves that pretty much look like oven mitts in order to keep warm. They look a bit silly at first, but they seem to be pretty effective.