September 29th, 2007

And so, as I’ve been suspecting for a while, I’ve run up against a big problem: When your outside wall is covered with ivy and you leave your windows open all summer, it suddenly predictably becomes difficult to close your windows when the temperature starts to drop in the autumn. And it really doesn’t help that we’ve been warned that this apartment is unusually cold in winter. I still don’t believe the unusually cold comment- unusually cold by the rather softcock standards of most expats in Beijing? Or actually cold enough that we’ll have to buy a heater? That much remains to be seen.

Anyway, the last time this apartment was done up, instead of putting in proper double-glazed windows, they put more modern windows in the window frames just inside the original late-80s/early 90s-style windows, giving us a kind of double glazing anyway. That’s cool, no problem, it’s the same as having proper double-glazing, but those original windows open outwards in a way that offers the ivy on the outside walls a myriad of ways of stopping us from closing the windows. And with a low of fourteen degrees forecast for tonight, followed by a high of twenty one tomorrow, it’s getting time we started closing the windows overnight. Especially with the warning that this apartment gets unusually cold- I might not be inclined to believe that, but still, we’re on the northwest corner of the building, meaning we’ll get bugger all winter sun, and you’re always better safe than sorry. Might as well start conserving heat now before it’s too late.

So task number three for tomorrow morning (after showering and getting breakfast) is to pull all the excess ivy off and close all the outside windows (at the very least), because I’ll be heading up to the village, as will lzh, danwei permitting, and we need to start keeping heat inside instead of outside.

Trouble is, downtown Beijing’s summer is so unrelentlessly hot and aircon is so hopelessly poisonous that the only solution is to leave your windows open and fan on full all through the summer. And these apartments which are little more than caves systematically cut into solid blocks of concrete hold that summer heat so well that the windows need to be left open well into the (tradtional Chinese) autumn that by the time it is sensible to close them overnight, it is actually getting a bit chilly outside after dark, that we had little choice but to let the ivy start growing its way inside.

And when I mention its starting to get a bit chilly outside, I must remember that tomorrow morning I’ll be getting on the bus for Yanqing, where it’ll be getting pretty close to frigid overnight at this time of year. Fortunately, all my autumn and winter clothes are up there waiting for me….

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