Autumn – the crackling of dry, multi-coloured leaves under sturdy boots, walks on a chilly but sunny day, hot cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate in a local pub/cafe, seating cozily on a sofa in the glow of candles or a gentle beam of light from a table lamp. That was the autumn I knew for so many years. And no, I’m not romanticizing it. Because among the many grey, wet, gloomy, dark and down-right depressing autumnal days in England, I did experience quite a few of the ones described above. And we all tend to remember the good stuff, don’t we?Needless to say, this type of autumn is nowhere to be seen here. That’s not to say it can’t be seen anywhere in China as I know for sure that there are provinces further north, where the weather during months, which follow a stupidly hot summer, does resemble one experienced in Europe/North America. Guangzhou is way too south though and so our autumn looks like this:
I took this photo last week. As you may notice, there are some dead leaves on the ground – a clear sign of autumn! The temperatures are not soaring anymore, they now (end of Nov) average 20 degrees Celsius. I make a point of wearing a coat and a light scarf just because this time of year one should. And because, believe it or not, you can be sick of wearing summer clothes ALL THE TIME. I was honestly looking forward to finally digging out cardigans and jumpers and have thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in a warm, thick duvet again or wearing a fluffy pajama/dressing gown and faux-fur slippers. Sounds really sad but I wasn’t the only one!Honest!
Even though one can still get away with walking around in flip flops and a t-shirt (middle of the day is still very warm), one would attract rather a large amount of attention (that is too say, even more attention than a foreigner already does) from the locals, who the second the temperature falls below 20C, confidently walk around in their warmest puffer jackets and winter boots. I’m not even kidding.
This morning, on my way to work (7am), I passed quite a few Chinese, who must have been boiling as the weather today has been warm and the air clear yet they stuck to their guns (aka, winter jackets). I have been told that there are two reasons for that: a) they feel the cold much more than people from other parts of the country/world as compared to a baking summer, this truly is winter weather for them and b) according to the Lunar calendar winter officially started a while ago so it’s kind of wrong to still wear light stuff. Fair enough.
What used to mildly annoy me when I lived in UK, and what has followed me here is the general belief that because I grew up in Poland (practically part of Siberia,didn’t you know?!) I must be somehow immune to cold and that it shouldn’t bother me! Well guess what, I do feel the cold and yes, it does bother me. A LOT. I joke that I’m a cold-blooded woman and therefore I suffer from cold much more than others. I’m not keen on cold weather but I do love a snugly dressing gown and a hot cocoa. Looks kind of weird when you’re sat like that in a super-brightly lit room with tiled floors (the typical decoration of apartments here) and the cocoa doesn’t taste quite right but hey, you gotta make do with what you’ve got:) Most of my colleagues have actually started putting the heating on!
The city itself has not really changed much from what it looks like in the summer. Apart from the first Christmas trees popping up outside the odd, Western hotel, a few Merry Christmas stickers on Starbucks/cafe windows and some festive decorations starting to be sold in tat shops, but unless you looked carefully, you wouldn’t know what season it was. That is if you didn’t suddenly bump into a ridiculously warmly-dressed local.
Come to think of it, even then, you still wouldn’t know as the Chinese fashion sense can be…interesting. I’ll leave that for another post though:)