Winter in China, and Why I Hate It

It’s cold here in Nanjing, outside and inside.


It’s been about 30 degrees outside all month with 10 to 15 mph winds. Which in the US is not that bad, and we’ve only had a tiny amount of snow compared to all of you guys this year. So what’s the big deal?

Well in our apartment and at my office, it probably only ever reaches 50 degrees inside if conditions are just right. The cement walls are excellent at bringing the cold in.

In the apartment the cool climate is due to the fact that none of our windows actually close. Even with our improvised weather-proofing, Arctic winds somehow still find their way in. Standing next to the closed front door you can feel a breeze.

In a developing country, this passes as insulation

At the office we actually have nice windows, but those only make a difference when they are kept closed. Every morning Grace has a need for “Fresh Air,” which, if you read my first post, you’ll remember doesn’t exist in China. The second fault in heating the office is that we have central air, but only in each room, so all of the hallways are maybe 20 degrees cooler, due to the need for fresh air in the bathrooms and hallway. Which has led to another interesting discovery, nobody in China seems to know how to shut a door, and so every 15 minutes the office loses all of its heat.

This however, is much better than when I lived in Guangxi where there was no heating in the classrooms. I remember sitting in the classroom, wearing three layers of socks, and still not being able to feel my feet. I would bring a bottle of hot water to class everyday so that the students could take turns warming their hands. Another winter I perfected typing with gloves, which is more of an accomplishment than it might sound like.

For me it’s always been cold in the winters in China because I have always lived south of the Yangtze River. Which sounds funny but, a long time ago the Central Govt. decided that only north of the river was cold enough to justify installing radiator heating. That has had far-reaching consequences for the environment, which I’ll talk about tomorrow, but for now I’m going to put on another layer and hold my cup of coffee a little closer.

About T

I have been working in China for nearly five years now. I have traveled to more than 30 cities and towns, and have lived in 3 provinces. I am interested in issues concerning development in China and the rest of the world. I hope to provide a balanced look at some of the issues facing China as it continues its rise to power.
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4 Responses to Winter in China, and Why I Hate It

  1. Anonymous says:

    We stuffed our windows with newspapers and sealed them tape….it helped with the breezes and blowing dust. We, also, bought a radiant heater that we moved from room
    to room….keeping the door closed in the room we were in with it on. Still wore longjohns.

  2. Pingback: Can the world afford China’s heating bill? | Seeing Red in China

  3. Sara says:

    I didn’t know that I should thank the goverment that I’m freezing at home. I’m living in Guangzhou and I really thought the winter wouldn’t be such a problem because I’m Finnish. I should be used to cold winters! But I’m not used to feeling cold inside. As I’m writing this I wear longjohns, jeans, three long sleeved shirts and a bathrobe. But no, I still have to sit infront of the heater.

    Luckily I’m on a winter holiday now so I don’t have to sit in the classroom where of course aren’t no heating. How the southern Chinese people that have worse living situations and no heaters make it?

  4. Pingback: Winter is coming…and it’s bringing global warming | Seeing Red in China

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