On Thursday, I returned to Hong Kong after three weeks away. As I turned the corner back to the flat, sweating with my suitcase in 35+ degree heat, I met an old man with his t-shirt rolled up to just under his moobs (as is the style among men of a certain age in these parts). He was squatting in the street, hammer in hand, bashing away at a rusty old electric fan until it had been transformed in to a pile of bent and buckled parts. What he meant to do with them is anyone’s guess. Further on I saw our local ‘tin-man’: another old man who wanders around with bits of metal attached to his body, including breast plates and a visor over his eyes. As I write this, I can hear from the window another local character serenading us with an angry rant in what I’m guessing is pretty salty Cantonese. Nobody’s listening. Welcome back to Hong Kong.
Back in the mists of time (or, February) I published a piece on the cold weather that Hong Kong had been suffering under. 15 degrees and all that. How we laughed. Thing is, right now, I can’t even imagine what 15 degrees feels like. This week has been absolutely scorching, culminating today in this array of steamy digits on the map below:
And, according to some sources, once you factor in humidity plus wind (or lack thereof), down on street level it was feeling like 40+ degrees. The sun was just hanging in the hazy sky, relentlessly blasting its punishment down on us. The best way I can think to describe it is that the heat is almost solid – like something all around that you can reach out and touch.
Unlike its winter counterpart, the Hot Weather Warning is accompanied by some rather more sensible advice from the Hong Kong observatory: drink water, use suncream, wear a hat, eat lots of ice-cream and so on. I spent today (the first day of my summer holidays) wallowing in the shallow end of a swimming pool. I needn’t sweat for too long, either, as tomorrow I fly back to the UK: a country in which, if memory serves, temperatures never quite reach such tropical peaks.