Weather might be chilly ... but I’m cool

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Page Two - Con­tact the writer at david@chi­

Spring is in the air in Bei­jing. The bit­ing cold of win­ter is over and, al­though the night air is still chilly, it’s ev­i­dent that warmer weather is on the way.

What a con­trast to my own coun­try, the United King­dom, which has just lived through a hellish, snowy win­ter and is still en­dur­ing icy cold weather.

Hav­ing had al­most two years to com­pare the cli­mates of north­ern China and north­ern Eng­land, I have to say that China wins hands­down.

Yes, it’s ex­tremely cold here in the win­ter but it’s also in­vari­ably dry and sun- ny, and that can be an in­cred­i­ble mood en­hancer.

Bri­tain’s cli­mate is no­to­ri­ously un­pre­dictable. We can never be sure what the At­lantic or Europe — even the North Pole and Siberia — will de­cide to throw at our lit­tle is­lands.

I’ve of­ten spent a full day fish­ing at a lo­cal lake and over eight hours ex­pe­ri­enced ev­ery type of weather you can imag­ine — rain, wind, sun, sleet ... you name it.

Prac­ti­cally ev­ery­one who lives in the UK is ob­sessed with the weather. It’s so un­pre­dictable, you’re al­most guar­an­teed a sur­prise. On a sunny sum­mer’s day you might de­cide to in­vite friends to a bar­be­cue the next day, only to have your plans de­stroyed by storm clouds and an icy down­pour. Then there are the many dark, over­cast days which seem to sap the joy from your soul and cast a gloomy shadow over life in gen­eral.

Of course, the cli­mate has helped shaped the Bri­tish char­ac­ter, for bet­ter or worse, and the same must be true for China.

Here — in Bei­jing at least — it’s easy to pre­dict the weather. So re­li­able is the cli­mate that there are spe­cific days when the heat­ing will be switched on for win­ter and switched off for spring and sum­mer.

Even on the cold­est days of win­ter, the sun can be shin­ing and peo­ple will be out in the park do­ing their square danc­ing, play­ing in­stru­ments, hug­ging trees and gen­er­ally liv­ing life to the full. No doubt spend­ing some time out­doors is an es­sen­tial part of life when home is a cramped apart­ment in a tower block.

Then there’s the blow­torch blast of sum­mer, which some of my fel­low ex­pa­tri­ates find un­com­fort­able. Per­son­ally, I love it. The quilted coats of win­ter — like sleep­ing bags with but­tons — give way to shorts and light­weight cloth­ing. Women use um­brel­las as para­sols — even while rid­ing bikes — and the mood is gen­er­ally up­beat. True, there can be tor­ren­tial rain but it’s sel­dom se­vere enough to dampen the spirits of a Brit.

The sea­son of bak­ing days and hu­mid nights? Bring it on. When you’ve grown up with the type of cli­mate I’ve been used to, you can take what­ever na­ture has in store for you.


Against a ma­jes­tic back­drop of snow-peaked moun­tains, a black-necked crane stands in soli­tary splen­dor in a na­ture re­serve in Ny­ingchi city, the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion, on Satur­day.

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