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Life in Chiang Mai


Brrr!!! It is cold!

By Heather Allen
Well, after all the complaining that winter was not cold and late Mother Nature decided to hit us with a vengeance bringing very cold temperatures in town and at or below freezing on some of the mountains. Doi Inthanon registered a decidedly chilly -3 degrees. Everyone is enjoying posting pictures of the various cold temperatures on their Facebook pages and while publicly bemoaning the cold many truly enjoy it. For some of us this is the best time of year with the brisk temperatures and the chance to pull out the warm coats, jumpers and scarves. We finally get the chance to wear that stylish if overly heavy jacket without melting into a puddle of perspiration.

Like most of my friends, my apartment is quite cold, something my family has a hard time sympathising with as our low is their high. Accusations of overplaying the cold have been flung my way and that of most of my other foreign friends from family, friends and loved ones at home. But as an elderly gentleman pointed out to me, the houses here do not retain heat at all. He noted that in Spain the houses have very thick walls which retain heat in cold weather and yet keep the house cool in the hot weather. Houses in Thailand have no such walls.

The houses heat up quickly and cool down just as quickly. I do not know of any house that has real insulation and sealed windows, perhaps some custom built house by an expat does but standard housing does not. This makes it all the colder when the temperatures drop. So, no insulation, no central heating and generally inadequate clothing make every single one of us rather cold.

However cold we may feel however, the mountain dwellers feel that much colder, most of them live in very simple wooden houses and lack warm clothing. Every year there is a big drive for blankets to help people and every year a few people die from the cold. At the time this article was written three people, all older, had died from the cold. It is easy for people who live in warm houses and who own heavy winter clothing to consider our complaints about the cold piffle but I suspect if they were to come and live here with no warm clothing and live in a simple uninsulated house, they too would be quite cold.

Someone asked me what these mountain dwellers do with the blankets every year; I have heard they use them for other purposes during the rest of the year. It seems simple enough to point fingers and say they should hold on to their blankets for the cold weather but most of these people are extremely poor and things must be multi-use. Most of them live in very small simple homes with not a lot of storage as well, so, instead of saying well too bad you should have saved it perhaps think of the small children and elderly who suffer the most from the cold and forgo judgment and just give some blankets.

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Brrr!!! It is cold!