I envy people with a bit of extra fat on them. For some, the icy grip of Beijing’s winter is nothing more than a mild inconvenience, but if you are thin like me (I’m nearly invisible if I turn sideways), winter in Beijing can be life threatening, and that’s before even going outside. For last week’s Midweek Giveaway, beijingkids editor Kara Chin, asked what the best way to keep warm is during winter in Beijing. This led to a rather inspired “debate” between a couple of us as we vied in vain to best one another’s answers. You can read about it here if you are interested, but I thought I would share the lay perspective on how to stay warm this winter.
1. Dress in layers. Yes, your mother (grandmother, aunt, school nurse, whoever) was right when they told you to dress in layers and take a sweater.
2. Eat hot pot. Done properly, this can add an internal body layer, though clearly all my attempts have failed.
3. Get heated floors. If you don’t want to add them to your place, move. It’s worth it. Mind you, my feet get cold indoors and it’s challenging to find house slippers that are my size, especially when visiting a friend’s home – I’m talking about you Jimmy.
4. Climb into a hot springs, hot tub, hot bath, hot bucket, basically anything to do with placing body parts in hot liquid. Especially the aforementioned cold feet. I lived in Japan for two years in a place without heating because winter there was not that long (just three months), so going to the local onsen (hot spring) was a godsend.
5. Electric blanket or heating pad. If you suffer from an irrational fear of electric heat, try a hot water bottle.
6. Drink tea. Locals keep telling me it works, so I keep drinking it. If you don’t care for tea, Starbucks has an expensive cup of coffee waiting for you.
7. Get yourself a pair of walnuts or a string of beads. Locals swear this helps with the circulation and it also gives you an ice-breaker when interacting with strangers as they enjoy comparing nuts and beads.
8. Exercise. Hey, after all the hotpot, you’re going to need it.
9. Sweet potatoes. You know, the ones being sold out of the metal barrels converted into portable ovens. Stick one in each pocket of your jacket, and you will have the only hand warmer that is not only biodegradable, but also edible. Should keep your hands warm for at least an hour and your belly full for three. Note: if you eat the sweet potatoes first, you do not get the hand-warming effect.
10. Best of all, get yourself some hugs and cuddles from your kids. If you do not have children able or willing to participate, find a suitable substitute. Not only will snuggling keep you warm, it will also make the world seem a little brighter, and lower your cholesterol. Okay, so I’m not a doctor, but it couldn’t hurt.