16.1 Winter Has Come

My mother was right.

Beijing winter comes overnight.

In one night, the biting cold winds have swept in bitter, icy temperatures that are characteristic of Beijing winters.

I woke up last Wednesday morning, checked the AQI to make sure it was safe, opened the window for some fresh air, and felt the chill. All the brown leaves that have been hanging on for dear life have fallen, many blown far away from home. The bare branches wiggled in the continuous wind that had blown away the heavy air pollutions of last weekend, and blown in blue skies and clear, frozen air from the Siberian heights.

No longer were jokes made on the iconic Game-of-Thrones phrase “Winter is coming” still in the air. It has arrived in full force.

I walked out with my usual getup of a sweater and a light down jacket, and immediately returned to my room in regret, to fetch more heat-conserving materials, aka. my ear-muffs, knitted-hat, and hot pink gloves (courtesy of my dear mother).

It wasn’t too windy, but its inhumane coldness made it hard to breathe when its directed toward you. My cheeks were rosy red and nearly falling off by the time I took my first few steps outside the cozy warmth of my building. The crowds were visibly thinner as I headed to class. All around me, furs (fake I hope) appeared on the bodies of the other fellow pedestrians and students braving the first frozenness of the year along with me. Some were nearly walking bundles of clothing and protection, their two blinking eyes are the only parts exposed to the brittle weather. A select few, whether out of fashion coolness or truly were used to such cold, still bare their full face and their necks and hands. I refused to look at them for long. It makes me colder than I already was.

As soon as I stepped into the building that hosted my first class of the day, the pounds came rapidly tumbling down. The hat, earmuffs, gloves and scarf were shed and jacket unzipped. I was liberated. But the artificial heat assaulted me just as violently as the biting winds did outside. And I was sweating within minutes. My face growing ever closer to a perfect imitation of a ripe tomato.

Yet, the worst part still remains the prospect of having to step back out, especially after being toasted and roasted for three hours by the indoor heating

At least the AQI is breaking records, reaching a low of 16 last Thursday morning.

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