Although the mornings are still relatively cool, the afternoons are getting hot. This weekend it was around 36°C. A lot of people are saying, however, the weather has stayed cool for longer this year- something that I’m not going to complain about. I remember arriving in Phnom Penh last year, and they were saying that they were still waiting for the rains to come, and it feeling oppressively hot (it may also be because I was given a lift in a car with broken air-conditioning and it was just blowing hot air to the back of the car). It took me ages to get used to the heat, but now I’ve adjusted.
I was on Skype with some friends yesterday, and their reaction to me telling them the temperatures was really interesting. I was talking to them at about ten o’clock at night, and it was still around 30°C at that point. I found that quite comfortable, but they said they would have found it too hot. My perceptions of temperature and weather have definitely changed, which I thought I would illustrate in this pictorial chart, using some creepy emojis. (The sun reminds me of the yellow baby-face on the Teletubbies. That whole show was trippy. What were the producers on?)
In the UK, a comfortable temperature would be somewhere around 16°C to 24°C. After that, you start to feel a little bit like you’re on fire. Reach 28°C and I become convinced that the sun is in the midst of a massive supernova event and the earth is being scorched of all life. Around 10°C, jumpers are definitely being worn, 5°C is very cold, and in the midst of winter, the night time temperatures may drop to below 0°C.
Cambodia, the temperature range is much more compressed. Also, the comfortable temperature range begins a whole ten degrees higher than in the UK. 26°C to 30°C is pretty comfortable (you may need a fan at the higher end but it’s still quite nice). 31 upwards is getting warm. Anything around 37-40°C is like being thrown into the sun.
I remember arriving in Hanoi where the weather was 17/18°C and feeling perpetually cold. I had to buy new shoes, trousers and jumpers, I was so uncomfortable.
To deal with the heat, I have a couple of contingency plans. I have a rotation of drinks in the fridge and freezer, as well as wet wipes. I’ve also been eating out quite a bit, to save on having to cook (you can get a really nice ban chao- Cambodia’s version of the Vietnamese yellow pancake, bánh xèo- for only $1). For when the real heat arrives, I’ve got a flat ice pack in freezer that I can lie on. I’m also fortunate enough to have air conditioning in my apartment, but I only try and put it on for 30 minutes a day at most. We’ll see if that stays the same when the thermometer reaches 38 and above!