Readers' Submissions

Chilling Out!

I woke up yesterday morning and had the hell shocked out of me when I walked outside. The Cool Season had arrived! And it’s about damned time I thought gleefully as I set out on my Raleigh for school. Here it was 6:15 A.M and I wasn’t sweating like a pig! I was getting a wee bit consternated by the beginning of November. It was still raining up here. Usually the waterworks had turn off by then and with it the tropical humidity that is the norm for most of the year. But better late than never! I don’t know about you folks, but for the next few glorious months I’ll have an extra spring in my step!

For those of you from countries with a temperate climate, cool weather doesn’t sound like that big a deal. So it gets a bit warm in Thailand. What of it? I certainly don’t hate warm weather as such, but a heat wave that never ends can wear anyone down, unless you actually enjoy living 24 hours a day in a steam bath. It is of course the humidity that is the real killer. My brother lives in New Mexico, and claims that people out there rarely turn on an air conditioner because the humidity is so low. I’m personally a bit skeptical at that claim, but in any case, from March to November I never turn off our bedroom air conditioner at night. My wife could easily sleep in a sauna, but I cannot! Air conditioning in fact was one of the “preconditions” for us moving to Thailand…..along with a western toilet, hot water, and screens in the windows.

Arriving at school I found most of my students shivering like they had suddenly been transported to the Antarctic. They were all bundled up like Eskimos in sweaters, scarves, hats and gloves……and they were still cold! They looked at me in disbelief as I sauntered along in my usual short sleeved shirt. “What” I cried in mock horror. “You aren’t actually cold today are you? It’s a lovely sunny day”!

“Yes we are” they said with teeth chattering.

“Don’t worry” I reassured them “in a few hours it will be very warm”, and of course in a few hours it was. It still gets up in the mid to upper 80’s everyday. Despite the fact that the Thais think of this as “winter”, the reality is that for me it’s exactly like summer back in Massachusetts. Yes, the nights do cool off, but comfortably so as far as I’m concerned. It’s what I grew up thinking as “fine sleeping weather”. These are the evenings to throw the windows open and enjoy some fresh air. I don’t think that the temperature falls below the mid 50’s F., but for Thais with “thin blood” it might as well be Siberia.

I remember when my wife first came to Massachusetts. It was June, and while I was happily in a T-shirt and shorts, she was bundled up as though it was January. Eventually over five years she did adapt and actually would venture out in the snow to “play”. However when I bought her a new PT Cruiser, she was delighted to discover it came with heated seats!

I will never completely adapt to year round hot weather. Hey, if it’s cold you can put something else on, or get under a blanket or two. But when you’ve stripped everything off, just jumped in a cool shower only to immediately start sweating after getting out, let’s face it, there’s not much you can do to keep comfortable. If any budding inventor ever develops a backpack a/c unit, I will be in line to purchase one!

It’s mid-afternoon at school. For most of you reading this, the temperature is comfortably warm. I don’t think any of you would think it was cold. My students though haven’t shed their sweaters and sweatshirts. If nothing else, they have a chance to wear something to break up the monotony of their school uniforms. As we all know, Thai girls both young and old are enamored of anything “cute”. It’s no surprise to see a sea of pastel colors bearing the likeness of Hello Kitty, Doraemon, Winnie the Pooh and other cartoon characters.

If any of you out there were thinking of taking a trip to the North of Thailand, now would be an excellent time to do so. The clear skies and low humidity are ideal for taking in the mountains, whether trekking or just driving around. In Chiang Mai this is an ideal time to go up to Wat Doi Sutep. Not only is it an extraordinarily lovely temple, but it offers a wonderful view of the city. Even better are the views from the top of Doi Inthanon, the highest point in Thailand at 2565 meters. There are some lovely waterfalls and an unbelievable number of exotic birds to seen in the National Park as well.

For me, the beginning of the cool season is synonymous with Loy Krathong, which is tomorrow night. In my humble opinion, that is the single most beautiful night of the year here in Lampang. I will definitely be out enjoying the festival and hopefully will have a full report for you later in the week. For now though I am just going to kick back and chill out while the chilling is good

Stickman's thoughts:

It has cooled off in Bangkok too, perhaps not as cool as up where you are but it really is nice. I love this time of year and am looking forward to spending more time out and about, wandering around the city, taking photos and returning smiles. Just as people are happy in the West during Summer, I find that the Thais are at their happiest at this time of year.