Under The Weather
It has been an unseasonably cool and wet winter here in Hong Kong. It’s also been one of the most enjoyable seasons of my three and three-quarter years here. Are the two connected? Of course they are. On the whole, I prefer winter to summer, I am not always at my best on really hot […]
It has been an unseasonably cool and wet winter here in Hong Kong. It’s also been one of the most enjoyable seasons of my three and three-quarter years here. Are the two connected? Of course they are. On the whole, I prefer winter to summer, I am not always at my best on really hot or humid days. But the real truth is that I like to experience all the seasons.
I love the cool mornings that open up into warm afternoons in spring. I love the way autumn days close in as the sun recedes into an amber bloom. I love the carefree looseness of a summer’s day, especially by a good beach with fresh seafood for lunch. I love the briskness and clarity of a sunny winter dawn. And, truth be told, I also love being braced against a cold, grey winter’s evening – if no other reason than such days have yielded me some of my best writing.
Of course, the question does sometimes come up, why live in place like Hong Kong if I don’t love the climate? Why not just leave? Being as polite as I can be, I think that is an asinine question really.
I can still remember the first time I was hit with the “if you don’t like why don’t you just leave?” question as a teenager. The answer was, quite simply, contained in my young age. It really wasn’t within my power to “just leave.” Now as an adult it still bemuses me when people ask that question as if everyone has the freedom to just pack up and move simply because they don’t love the climate. Commitments, be they family, or work often tie us to less than ideal locations – sometimes for a season, sometimes for longer.
That said, climate is far from the most important issue when deciding a place to live. When I moved from Sydney to London in 1999, the climate wasn’t even a consideration. London’s summers can be fickle and her winters can be bleak, but that never really entered my mind when thinking about the move. There were other far more important considerations. The same held true when moving to Delhi and again to Hong Kong.
And each city has it’s good and bad days. Many non-Australians seem to envy Sydney’s climate, with good reason. But, I can remember many unpleasantly humid summers and the winters, especially when they are wet can also be rough, particularly since a lot of homes are not well suited to cold nights. By contrast, London’s weather is the butt of many jokes, but I recall some glorious spring and summer afternoons, with the long twilights illuminating what have to be some of the most beautiful city parks in the world. Most people focus on the gruesomely hot summer in Delhi. While the winter months are their own kind of cold, still horror. Yet there are beautiful spells of dry, warm weather in Spring and Autumn that would surprise many.
On the subject of surprises, I’d like to clear something up on the Sydney versus London comparison. Both cities, have roughly the same statistical average, in terms of rainy days a month in summer – eleven. Moreover, Sydney has, on average nearly twice as much rainfall in the months of January and February as London has in the equivalent months of July and August.
As for Hong Kong; the city can be glorious on a clear sunny day. However, in my years here, those glorious days are rare. Every winter has shown a lot of grey days, the rain is frequent and can close in days on end, even during the summer and when the clouds don’t darken the skies, the pollution often does.
Not that any of that really matters too much. When I think about the cities I’d like to live in after Hong Kong, be it Copenhagen, Tokyo, or Barcelona the climate really doesn’t top the list of what I find attractive. The culture, the food, the people, the infrastructure, the sport, the history and the freedom, these are the things that capture my imagination.