I never thought I'd say this, but I miss winter. And as a Wisconsin kid, that's saying something. Ho Chi Minh City spends the year hovering around 90°F (32°C). There are no seasons here, beyond "wet" and "dry." The wet season is what the world pictures when they think of tropical climates: heavy rain, endless sweat, and humidity so thick you could carve it up and serve it on a plate. The dry season is essentially the same. Except it rains less.
Every day I battle the unchanging summer: waging war with heat stroke; adding salt rings to my shirts; and gasping in the shade, dreaming of winter.
I know. I shouldn't complain. I don't have to shovel 3 foot snow banks, or drive on icy roads. I don't have to face the many perils of cold, the frostbite, the pneumonia, the numb fingers and bright red nose. It's almost March, and I can sit on a beach in a t-shirt and trunks, sipping a coconut and looking like an idiot.
But I still miss winter. I miss ice skating... okay, not actually doing it, but I do miss watching Erin skate. I miss warm coffee on a cold morning. I miss the ability to enjoy hot soup without immediately sweating. I miss snuggling under a thick blanket in chill night air. I miss blankets! And cocoa! And sledding! And snowball fights!
The heat has its merits, sure. January is shorts weather here. And February. And March. And the palm trees are nice.
Tropical fruits are always in season.
But the open air markets quickly become horror shows. Like the fish and meat market just beyond those mangoes.
It's noon, and all that stuff has been sitting out since before dawn. And did I mention it's 95 degrees? In the shade? The smell alone is enough to put me off eating for days. Sure, refrigeration would help, but in endless summer, piles of meat will never be appealing. Ice cream, maybe... assuming it isn't Durian Surprise.
A few weeks ago, Erin and I took the Reunification Express up to Hanoi for an article. When we got off the train, it was 70°F (21°C), balmy and chill. I actually needed a long-sleeved shirt to feel comfortable. We walked around in a daze, feeling like we'd entered another reality. It was amazing. Erin talked about it in her love letter to Hanoi, as one of the things she found captivating.
Then we returned to Saigon, to our endless summer.
I know some of you want to bludgeon me with a snow shovel right now. And Saigon has been a wonderful adventure. But I miss winter, just a bit.