Travel

Experiencing Singapore (9): Dealing with the Climate

Supposedly one of the biggest issues with Singapore, for natives and foreigners alike, is the weather. Singapore is a tropical country close to the equator. As a consequence, you get to enjoy around 30 degrees Celsius all year round. On top, there is very high humidity, which some seem to dislike.

What I found generally surprising was that quite a few locals complain about the heat. However, people spend very little time in areas that are not air-conditioned. With the crutch of air-conditioning, the heat is very easy to take. By comparison, having air conditioning in your home in a country like Germany is essentially unheard of. Yet, I have had to endure summers with close to 40 degrees Celsius. I think the warmest day I ever experienced had 42 degrees. My family got a fan for the living room, and that was about it. What was worse was that our brick house stored the heat, so the nights were genuinely unpleasant. Compared to those memories, the Singaporean climate was downright enjoyable.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I found the weather pleasant, which is the main reason I didn’t mention that issue in my post on Personal Downsides. The first two days I struggled a bit, but once you get over walking around in flip-flops, Bermuda shorts and polos or T-shirts that dry very quickly, the heat isn’t much of an issue. However, I think I was able to cope a lot better than most Westerners because of a part of my genetic heritage. One branch of my family tree can be traced to the Kingdom of Galicia, now part of Romania, where, among others, ancestors of mine were pioneering petroleum engineers. Anyway, due to that genetic heritage, I’m routinely mistaken for being Italian or French, and it also caused me to experience discrimination in Germany (I’m not kidding.). The upshot is that your mileage may very well vary. If you have darker features, you may find it very easy to deal with the heat and humidity in Singapore.

An issue I have with the climate in the West is that it is too dry for me. As a consequence, I am often afflicted with skin issues, which I somewhat deal with by applying moisturizer. In Singapore, all of that cleared up within a few days. My skin has never looked that healthy. I also have some intermittent dandruff — that went away as well. I suspect it’s likewise due to dry skin as it’s a bigger issue for me in winter than in summer. This may not at all apply to you, though. On that note, a white foreigner I met who is, of course, dating an Asian woman told me that his girlfriend wants to settle in the West with him because of her skin condition. Her skin reacts poorly to heat, and all her problems disappeared in the comparatively mild climate of central Europe.

The problem with the climate is that you can’t really get used to it if you’re not suited for it. I met a few natives who were sweating a lot, and who were not nearly coping as well with the heat as me. Funnily, I got befuddled looks when I said I quite like the weather. You will sweat, but for me it was perfectly manageable. Sure, you’ll likely step out of a shower and, as you’re drying yourself, notice a drop of sweat running down your back. There is just no getting around to it, except air-conditioning your entire apartment, which is not feasible due to the way they are constructed, with their semi-open layout.

Another issue of the climate is that you may experience very heavy rainfall. The skies part and the city comes to a standstill, well, at least for those people who have to walk somewhere. Below is a picture that captures that problem. Spontaneous heavy rainfall is something you’ll have to live with. The many women with fantastic legs surely make it worth your while, as you can see:

I wish I had taken a picture when she bent forward, with her legs straight, to “fix” her shoes.

Oh, and on a side note, of course young women only wear shorts because of the weather, not to show off their body. Yet, strangely enough, you don’t see older women in shorts. Something seems to happen that makes them wear skirts that cover their knees. It could well be that their husbands put an end to them showing off their legs to the Asian brothers of Chad and Tyrone.

In general, you should avoid doing much walking around noon as it can be unbearably warm under a clear sky. If the sky is cloudy and it is not raining, you’ll get to enjoy arguably the most pleasant weather there is. In contrast, a much more unpleasant observation I made was that due to perspiring: You may end up with sticky fingers when typing. During my stay in Singapore, I didn’t write much, but if that had been my focus, I would have made sure that I was in a properly air-conditioned room and that I had acclimated myself properly before pulling my laptop out. Otherwise, it feels rather unpleasant to type and have the skin of your fingertips stick to the keys of your keyboard. Similarly, the screen of your smartphone may get more smeared than in the West.

From a practical perspective, if you do decide to stay in Singapore for the mid to long term, you only need to buy one set of clothes instead of four like in most European countries. I think this is a quite appealing prospect as it simplifies your life dramatically. You can wear your clothes all year round, and you don’t need to shuffle them around in your wardrobe either.

Related to Singapore’s location is that you enjoy around twelve hours of sunlight all day, every day. Compared to how I feel in Winter, particularly in Northern Europe, the difference was quite noticeable. The quality of the light should be mentioned, too: it’s wonderfully bright basically as soon as the sun is up, which is absolutely fantastic, compared to the few bright hours of the day you may enjoy in Europe during summer, which are nowhere near as bright as the days in Singapore. If you suffer from winter depression, you may now know where you have to move to.


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