Guess where I am?
And I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
Guess where I am?
And I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
I keep saying (to anyone who will listen) there is no way I’ll be able to stand another ‘real’ winter after two years in Thailand, but that doesn’t stop me from fantasizing about visiting a snow globe of a town like Copenhagen in the middle of it. The days are short, the cold is strong, but scenes like this make it seem even more worthwhile. The colors against the snow with the lights, I’m in travel lust… just so long as I don’t actually have to experience the biting weather every day.
Windy City, I’m both enthralled and terrified of you. The idea of winter, especially in a place known for its gusts that blow people around, is my idea of a good time. Until I have to go outside at least. I haven’t spent much time traveling in the Mid-West of the U.S., but I think Chicago and I will get along just fine on a post-PC road trip. Even if I do imagine Gotham City as the fictionalized version of it.
Maybe Batman could give me a tour?
I was Thai-napped by some of my Ban Rai people to check out what the province of Loei had to offer and I loved it. Advertised as the new Pai (a smallish hippy town in Northern Thailand), Chiang Kan is a place well worth your time if you’re on your way to Laos and again, not worried about getting off the beaten trail a bit. Not that the area isn’t touristy, because it is, but it’s cheesy enough without hampering some of the really cool shops in the area (I got a pair of ‘fishermen’ pants that are hot pink, yellow, and green that read boom across the bum, handmade, I’m in love). I definitely saw more Thai tourists than farang ones, but it wasn’t a big deal that I was there either. Beautiful viewpoints, pretty decent shopping, and this time of year is fantastic weather. Do it, you know you want to.
Is there anywhere better for New Year’s Eve than New York City watching the ball drop? Not that I’ve ever done it or anything, friends from Philadelphia have survived to tell me their tales about it and I can’t decide if I want to go through the hassle or not. It looks gorgeous, but millions of other people seem to feel the same way and let’s be realistic here, the idea of standing outside for hours in weather colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit sounds like absolute torture. That’s what Tuesday Travel photos are for though, whimsical ideas of being in places at times that I could never possibly be in them.
Ah, cold season. I came back from my October school break and the air was suddenly drier and cooler at night. I had nice comfortable nights with my fan on low (a feat in it of itself), but midday got me sweating as usual. I was ok with this given that I was getting the best sleep in my Peace Corps life (and a bit of in my entire life, there’s nothing like making a past-insomniac a PCV and then add in cold season and I wasn’t just sleeping, but dead to the typically loud Thai village morning world) and the heat is just an accepted constant.
In the evenings, I would wear sleeves or sweats/leggings, you know, just because I could. Suddenly eating dinner out meant I could wear jeans and a scarf. Loi Kratong, November 10th this year, I was wearing jeans AND my hair down. I’m pretty sure a boatload (get it, because kratongs are little flower boats… this is what Thai humor has done to my wit) of people failed to recognize me due to this fact. Though nighttime I was starting to wear outfits comparable to June/July evenings back in Pittsburgh, I kept the same free-flowing things during the day because I knew after the comfortable mornings my dear friend hot would be visiting.
And then December came.
Let’s be clear about winter here. In other parts of the real seasons world, Pre-Christmas, winter is a wonderland according to song. Frolicking to and fro, the snow-globe effect is uplifting and beautiful. And then Christmas passes and suddenly things are starting to look a little less wondrous. More like shitty and annoying watching your step so you don’t slip on the build-up of ice on the sidewalk. Hate to break it to you little blogettes, but things are just getting fantastic here.
Cold season here feels like Christmas in July, which is always nice, but it’s actually December. That’s kind of blowing my mind right now. You know what else is doing more damage to my accepted weather psyche? I wore a sweater, scarf, and my hair down all day and I was still very cold in my country school. Again, not that it’s not ok, I’m really enjoying it and taking the opportunity to wear things that I normally can’t because it’s usually too hot. The Thai puans however were complaining about how it’s so cold their bones hurt. My response ‘…’ I mean, come on guys, it’s not that bad. You’d think they were Los Angelenes moving to the sub-zero tempts in Alaska the way they’re acting. In case you’re wondering, the temperature Thai people start wearing sleeves (for the cold, not just to block the sun) is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m not joking, here’s a photo to prove it.
One thing that drives me absolutely crazy about Thais though is when we get in the car and everyone is agreeing about how cold they are and wearing multiple layers and they turn the air conditioning on. Um, excuse me? Is that really necessary given my skin is goosebumping like crazy right now? When I close the vents, they ask me if I’m cold. Um, YES! I just said that to you about six seconds ago. Did you forget? Did you also forget that YOU JUST SAID THAT YOU WERE COLD TOO?! Then why did you turn the air conditioning on to the third highest setting, the same one we use when it’s hot season?!
The first morning I was truly cold this cold season came when I was going with my school to Phi Chit for an academic competition. Sitting in one of the teacher’s fancy new car, it had a front and rear air conditioning controller. Given that the student sitting on the other side of the car was freezing (but too Thai to say anything about it) and so was I, I turned the back AC off. The teacher sitting in the middle of the car proclaimed she was comfortable given that she could feel the air from the front. This lasted about three and a half minutes until the owner of the car couldn’t stand it anymore and wanting to show off the control turned it back on, blasting the air on the student and I. The teacher sitting in the middle gave me her scarf to put overtop my own sweater and scarf, but that damn air conditioning stayed on. ‘Erin,’ you might be thinking, ‘why didn’t you just close the vents again?’ Well dear bloglettes, because life is a cold, hard bitch (literally in this case) and those damn vents couldn’t close, only adjust from blowing directly on my forehead through to a direct shot at my chest. This is not the first, nor the last time I will ask, why Thailand, why? Excuse the mini-rant, continuing on.
My favorite question right now is ‘In America, is it cold like this?’ I giggle. I should count how many jaws I’ve seen drop when I say it gets much colder than this high sixties/low seventies weather. Many people tell me that they wouldn’t be able to handle it (and I believe them), but I always take time to explain that in non-tropical countries, we tend to live inside with things like hot showers, furnaces, and proper insulation and wear layers when we do venture into Mother Nature’s bitterness. That’s a little hard to explain, especially since I don’t think there’s even a word in Thai for furnace, so I just say it’s like living in the city where many people have AC.
While the western world will be trudging through until spring in February/Marchish, we’ll be back to fans on, airy clothes, and sweating, of course. Lovely. For now though, I’m going to just sit back with my leggings, hoodie, and blanket covering my legs and try to cement this moment in my mind. That way, when I’m sitting next to my fan come hot season, counting how many showers I’ve taken that day, and drowsing off to a nap because that’s all I can muster up the energy to do that day, it’ll be thoughts of the next cold season that comfort my overheated mind.
Well, here we are, December. I’ve always had a dream that my first Christmas with my husband would be in a nice little cabin in a nice little town in one of the Nordic countries. Now, husband or not, I’d love to be here, in this Swiss cabin, for a few days this month. Boots, coat, scarf, until I’m so bundled up, the kid from the Christmas Story is an understatement. For now though, this dream will have to do…