Hong Kong heat

Hong Kong, Sunday 10 June 2012

The heat here is oppressive. It’s not the dry, beating heat of the Middle East to which I’m accustomed. It’s a thick, wet, cloying heat that leaves you feeling as if you’re smothered beneath layers of sodden blankets that have a blast furnace pouring its energy onto them.

You only have to step beyond the confines your air-conditioned cocoon to find yourself dripping and being dripped on.

The abundance of air-conditioning units precariously clinging to the exterior walls of every building here, all of which are high-rise, constantly leak water onto the street. Sometimes, you’re not sure if it’s starting to rain or the average air-conditioned drip.

Rain comes in two forms here.

First, there’s the deluge of epic proportions. Huge, fat raindrops descend from the heavens in what feels like an endless torrent, bouncing off the ground and turning the streets into rivers. Nothing provides shelter from these monsters. An umbrella is useless. You need a building. I experienced this on Sunday lunchtime. I sat behind my shelter of glass, mesmerised by the irrepressible force of the water tumbling from the sky.

Sometimes, though, it feels as if the humidity has reached breaking point and the clouds literally burst. These showers are relatively short and intense; there’s no point in seeking shelter and by the time that you’ve fished around for your umbrella and put it up, all the fuss would have been for nothing. These cloudbursts will leave you feeling refreshed for approximately thirty-three seconds before you realise that you’re now just as warm and probably a touch more damp than before.

This sort of steamy heat is sticky and exhausting. I feel constantly grimy and frequently sleepy. I’m astonished that society manages to function beneath such relentless humidity. There are many things that I will miss about Hong Kong, but the oppressive humidity is not one of them.

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