And inside, too, for that matter.
We'd heard a few warnings about the damp chill in Hong Kong before leaving, but like the stubborn Canadian patriots we are, we had brushed them off. After all, we figured, ten degrees in Hong Kong can't be worse than -10 degrees in Toronto. To us, it sounded like a moderate spring day.
Boy, were we wrong.
10 degrees in Hong Kong, where there's no central heating, no insulation on the windows, and where the moisture in the air seeps into your skin and clings to your bones, is much worse than -10 degrees back home. We've found ourselves shivering most nights in our room, dreading stepping out into the space outside of our duvet. I work in bed under a blanket. And then last weekend, Hong Kong saw the coldest day it has experienced in the last 60 years, with temperatures plummeting down to 3 degrees. We even saw snow, just a few flakes swirling around, from the 15th floor of the hotel my dad was staying at. This never happens in Hong Kong. As in, people go their whole lives here and then visit Canada or some place and are amazed by the sight of snow, because it literally never happens in Hong Kong, but somehow, a week after moving here, we've managed to spot a glimpse of it.
So instead of going back to our walk-in fridge of an apartment, we took a ferry to Macao, to stay at a warm hotel room along the Cotai Strip. And let me tell you, I love Macao. Macao is amazing, surreal and weird, stacked with huge hotel-casino complexes each brilliantly themed with totally distinct atmospheres. In the Venetian Hotel, for example, there's a long shopping atrium that's set up to look like a Venice street-scape, with a long, murky-green canal running between the shops and gondolas floating under footbridges. Studio City's "Times Square" mall looks like a studio lot made to look like fake New York City. And more.
We spent most of the night just wandering around casinos and malls in Cotai, and then the next day, we headed to the historic centre of Macao to check out the Portuguese landmarks and architecture.
My dad took us to the Mandarin's House, which is an old Guangdong-style settlement built in the late 1800s, where his grandparents and parents grew up. Since the early 2000s, the local Macanese government has turned it into a heritage landmark and has slowly restored it to its former glory. He shared stories about visits there to see his grandparents as a kid, when families still lived there, about 20 crammed in tiny rooms around a large stone courtyard; how his parents grew up in the house together. It was amazing to see that such an integral piece of his immediate family history has not just survived through the ages, but is also celebrated and cherished by the community.
We're back in the city now, and thankfully, the weather is milder now, though there's more rain. I passed my 27th birthday on the 27th, and celebrated with dinner and drinks, just like any other year. But of course, this time, I got to enjoy a cocktail under the bright neon sign of Tai Lung Fung in a small alleyway off of Wanchai, and then we headed straight to our rooftop in Sham Shui Po, where the din of traffic was six floors muted beneath us. We chatted with our roommate and watched the lights flicker on and off (as lights in the 'Po do) from surrounding old buildings.
For now more than ever, I'm content to stay put in our chilly little apartment in anticipation for when the sun deigns to meet us again.