winter wonderland

Will someone please turn down the aircon on the Skytrain, I’m freezing!

We are soon entering Thailand’s cold season. On the street, people are selling coats with fur hoods, warm blankets, wool sweaters, hoodies, hat and scarves, preparing for when the mercury dips to a glacial 20 degrees Celsius. I went to buy a keyboard at the Mac store yesterday, and the salesgirl was wearing a coat with a fur hood. Inside the store.

As a Canadian, I can’t help but feel amused by Thais’ idea of cold, just like I’m sure they’re amused at my idea that 3 chilis in my som tam is spicy enough. I want to tell them about having horseback-riding lessons when it was -30C, and it was so cold the horses’ whiskers turned to ice on their faces. Or going sleigh-riding in the clear winter night, the hush hush of the deep snow in the forest, having to jump off periodically and run behind the sleigh in the packed snow created by the horses to stay warm. I want to tell them about snow days at school, making snow forts, ice skating-rinks, my grandfather making snowshoes out of wood and deer sinew, going snowshoeing in pine forests with a pair of dogs that kept stepping on my shoes in their excitement, making me sink into the snow down to my waist.

The French-Canadian poet Gilles Vigneault said it best: “mon pays, c’est un pays, c’est l’hiver”, which means “Winter is my country”.

Of course, if I want to remember what cold is, I just go watch a movie in Bangkok. The aircon is turned on so high, the ushers have to crack frozen people out of their seats at the end, like dogsleds in a Jack London novel. Did you know that’s where popsicles in the 7-11 come from?

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A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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