Friday, 12 December 2008

The cold.

It is cold here. But I am coping much better than early this year. As I write this it is 3 degrees in Shaoxing, so outside it is cold. Here in my apartment I am as warm as toast. I have the two reverse cycle air conditioers going, (just turned one off), and all is well.

I know if I go outside a blast of cold air will bring me back to reality. There is no heating in the classrooms, but I walk around a lot and the students are quite surprised when I take my heavy coat off when I get hot. Yesterday some of the girls told me I looked "sexy" with my coat off. Yeah, right!

I am better prepared. I have a thick coat that I bought earlier this year, I do wear leggings, gloves, knitted hat, and layers under my thick coat. A scarf completes the picture - and it is surprising how much warmth a scarf can add.

So I am coping with the cold. Last week it was -4 degrees, and it didn't bother me. I have a friend from Brisbane further north, and it is is -18. Not somewhere I'd like to go! That sounds too bad.

I have been asked if this place is "safe" for women. Women travellers. I would say an emphatic "yes". I feel no insecurity, except on the odd occasion that I am being harassed by beggars. Most are not persistent, but some can be. I have learned to say something in Chinese that says that I am a local. "Wo Shaoxingren." So I won't get bothered by them.

In reality though I have not felt any concerns even in Shanghai. One is always warned about keeping one's money safe - especially in crowded buses or trains. This is where thieves are more likely to be. I have heard of women putting their purses beside them, or on the table, in a restaurant and finding them missing later.

Most Chinese are happy, friendly folk and will do anything to help you. Many more speak English than will admit it, but if you need help, just look for a young person - late teens or early 20's as they all learn English at school.

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