It sounds weird to say this, but for the past couple weeks or so, Vietnam hasn’t been hot. Strange eh? Up in the northernmost parts of the country it has fallen below freezing. People in Hanoi are suffering from no heating in the buildings and riding motorbikes, and I’ve taken to sleeping with no fan or AC and using two blankets. Yesterday I wore an undershirt and long sleeves driving around town because of the cool air.
Of all the years I’ve lived in Vietnam, it is always cooler around this time of year, but this year is getting extreme for the north. People are being hospitalized, livestock is dying and crops are failing. However, as I see it, it’s all part of the cycle. It’s cold before Tet (February 3rd this year), then it warms up and gets almost unbearably hot before the rainy season starts. And when the rains come and cool everyone down, they end up contributing to the humidity, making it feel even hotter at times. Ironically, summers seem hotter in the northern part of the country as well.
The only times which this coolness bothers me is when I’m driving and feel cold, or when I wake up and found that I’ve kicked off the covers. For the most part though, it’s kinda nice. When I taught at An Giang University with no AC in the classrooms, this was my favorite time of the year. I could teach enthusiastically and still leave the classroom without being covered in sweat! Once I even wore a sweater to class (but had to take it off after I started jumping around the room).
Sometimes I see articles about snowstorms back in the states or Europe, and I think fondly of the snow and cold weather. But then I remember the reality of cold fingers, toes and noses. I remember all the fun I have playing in the snow, but then I remember dealing with the snow: driving through it while trying to stay on the road, shoveling it to get out of the driveway, etc.
Perhaps the coolness that is throughout Saigon is ideal for me. Refreshing without being uncomfortable. Brisk without being freezing. Just cool enough to snuggle under a blanket with a good book.