Friday, May 27, 2011

Til Summer Comes Around

The office at my old job was not a fun place to be in the winter. There was no heating, at all. Not even space heaters, and as a result, I came into work each day in some kind of ridiculous attire. I was dressed for the ski slopes, but instead of resembling a mildly attractive ski bunny, I was more of a mismatched marshmallow. I digress.

The point is, it was cold, and as I sat shivering in front of my computer I vowed that once summer came around, I wouldn't complain about the heat. That when my arms were soaked with sweat within minutes of stepping outside, I'd take it in stride. I'll do my best to honor that, no one likes a hypocrite. Especially as, in most cases, I prefer the summer to the winter. I like the warmth. My mood is brighter when it's sunny outside, I feel better when I have a sunkissed glow.

However, there are certain things one must know about summertime in Hanoi.
1. From June to September there is very little chance of being attractive. Unless you are one of those people unaffected by seasons and look perfect all the time. Like my friend Clare. I can't stand people like that (jealousy) and this post is not for you. For everyone else, you're going to be disgusting. You will be dripping in sweat within two minutes of stepping outside your door, your feet will be filthy despite how many times you wash them. If you're a woman, there is no such thing as a good hair day. Just stop trying now. As for makeup? It will probably melt off of your face. Time to embrace your natural beauty or at least be consoled by the fact that everybody else (except for the "Clare's" of the world) is just as ugly as you are. ;)
2. Hanoi has blackouts in the summer. Make sure you have candles, lots of water on hand, a place where you keep your keys (so you don't have to dig around for them), and a spot that you can escape to, preferably one nearby that has a generator.
3. Pools are your friend. But they're also grossly overcrowded. If you want to do laps, the worst time (in terms of volume of people) is the early morning and evening. If you're like me and you just like lounging poolside, to get a good spot (or a spot at all) 12 is the latest you can arrive.
4. You'd amazed at how baby wipes have changed my life. You can buy little travel packs and believe me when it's hot out they feel amazing.
5. Drink sugarcane juice. Only because it's amazing. I have only just discovered this heavenly concoction...and I am convinced it has magical powers. It's the perfect combination or sweet and earthy. It's all natural, tastes delicious, and is the perfect pick me up. Tired? Grumpy? Bored? Hungover? One sip of sugarcane juice and you're revived. I am obsessed.
6. Don't do what I do. (Which is be stupidly unprepared for the summer rain) I grew up in a place where rain storms were ever present and intense. Did I own a rain coat? No. In university, when the snow and rain fell did I have proper protection. Negative. So in Hanoi, where mini typhoons appear out of nowhere and persist for hours at a time, have I the right tools to keep my dry and warm? of course not. But I am an idiot, and a lesson of what NOT to do. Buy a rain coat and keep it close to you at all times. The rain will fall, it will come from nowhere and you will end up trapped or soaked if you don't have a slicker.
7. Wear sunblock. This should be obvious and applies to anywhere not just Hanoi. Being tan is nice, it makes you look healthy and pretty. I get it, I am a complete worshiper. In fact it's hard to imagine that I was born with porcelain English rose skin. But I was, however by the age of 20 had destroyed it, altered the pigmentation by basking in the sun to striving to be a bronzed goddess. I regret it deeply now, not only did I not receive goddess stature BUT I am covered in sunspots and at the age of 27 have wrinkles around my eyes and some on my forehead that won't go away. My skin also looks weird when I am pale, I can never go back. So wear sunblock, especially in Hanoi, as the sun is really strong and you can get burned just by driving to work or walking around town.

Despite the blistering heat, the smothering humidity and the realization that I can't enhance my looks by any outside source, I do love the summer in Hanoi. The fruit is delicious, the pace is a little bit slower, everyone seems happier. There are fun events like pool parties, electronic picnics, barbeques, music festivals. Everyone is excited to shed the winter and take on the summer heat...their faces shining (with perspiration)


  1. OH DEAR GOD. I was out the other day and dying from the heat. My boyfriend turned to me and said "just wait til summer". This post confirms the worst!

  2. haha yeah it's intense. July/August especially

  3. tsk, silly foreigners.