Today I was whining about London’s weather. Later, Jin told me about their situation at the moment. I felt bad instantly. About even thinking the weather and the conditions in London would be bad.
It is winter in Anhui province, Niuji village. That means, during the day, temperatures stay around zero degree and in the night go down to minus ten degrees. There is no heating.
The Qingling Mountain Range and the Huaihe River is a geographical line dividing northern and southern China. This demarcation line runs through the northern part of Anhui. People in southern China have no heating. And even as far as southern Guangzhou it can get really cold during the winter times as Sara explains in her post. But, if we take a close look on the map, Niuji village (belonging to Bozhou) in fact, is north of the Huaihe Qinling Divide! We should have heating, but we don’t because the go
I had the pleasure to experience several winters with my in-laws. The only way to keep warm is to wear several layers of clothes. Luckily, they have those really thick long underwear (baonuanyi 保暖衣) everywhere to buy. It makes you look like a fat Michelin man, but at least you stay warm. A hot-water bottle was my best friend during those winter months. You could use electric blankets or those little electric water-bottles, but then comes the problem of electricity.
Winter in Niuji village can be very exhausting; most of the time we did not have electricity. Most of it was due to the over-use. Most families turned on their air-cons to, at least, get a warm bedroom. The electric consumption was horrendous. We never turned on the air-con in the night. First of all, because there was usually no electricity during the night anyway, and second, the poor air-con wouldn’t survive a week if you keep it running for hours during the night with temperatures below zero. So we had blankets. A lot of blankets. Very big fat blankets. So heavy, you felt suffocated under them. But warm.
Jin told me that they haven’t had regular electricity for over two months now. The village was still using a very old transformer to produce electricity. Most of the time it would just not stand the huge amount of usage. So they decided to change it. Get something new. Which is a great thing. Unfortunately, things in Chinese villages take a while. It’s not like in those big cities, Shanghai or Beijing, where they build a skyscraper within a few months. No, in Niuji you need to be very patient. Why being hasty? Who needs electricity anyway?
Though I have to admit, it is amazing how Jin and his family couldn’t care less if there is electricity or not.
They cook on fire anyway. And who can say they had a “candle-light dinner” several weeks in a row? If I imagine one German city having no electricity, everyone would be devastated. Hey, at my mom’s house we wouldn’t even be able to cook!
But then there is the problem of water. At the moment they do have water. But I remember having no water for days. The pipes were frozen. And it wasn’t even that cold. But enough to stop the water flow. Even our toilet was frozen for days!
So, why again are they not allowed to have central heating?
I am so glad I did buy my sisters kids (actually Jin’s sisters) some warm fluffy jackets and no toys. What use is a toy car if their tiny hands are too cold to play with them? At least now they have one more layer of clothing to keep them warm.
I hate the cold. I find it so hard to visit my in-laws during winter months. Unfortunately, Chinese New Year always is in winter. This year I won’t be there to share the cold and freezing moments during dinner, before the hot pot slowly warms your insides. This year I will be staying in London; under my blanket, with central heating and a warm cup of Chinese tea.
What are your experiences of winter in China? How do you cope? Or do you just love the cold?
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