The rainy season finally started last night and, despite many thousands spent on their sewage infrastructure in recent years, my University has the usual flooding. My students waded to class today in their flip-flops!
I was always told snow was a rarity in Kunming and before last year I'd only seen one flurry in 8 years. But it snowed (lightly) a couple of times last winter and has already snowed twice this winter. Odd.
JD was understandably excited to see it all as he's been watching snowy Christmas episodes of Peter Rabbit, Pingu and Thomas the Tank Engine for a month or two now. So I took him outside for a low-key "snowball fight" and to build a tiny snow-rabbit together (not enough snow for a man!). It's supposed to be cold tomorrow too, before warming up again, but I can't see today's dusting lasting very long.
Kunming has such a temperate climate that the weather - typically warm and sunny with a cooling breeze - barely gets mentioned in polite conversation here. But if the temperature dares to drop below about 20ºC, it becomes the subject of various moans and groans. Admittedly there is little or no indoor heating in Yunnan and our school Teachers' Office, with no windows and a high roof, gets particularly chilly over a weekend. But, as a Londoner, I don't seem to feel, or worry about, the cold in the way that others do. Jiajia, in particular, really fears colder weather and is already starting to panic about our trip to the UK in February. We are actually both flying to Guangzhou tomorrow, which should be significantly warmer, to apply for her UK visa. Fingers crossed for that. Meanwhile, JD is snug enough in his Mr Blobby night-time onesie. Sumo, anyone?
The rainy season often leads to some flooding in Shenzhen, the city where Jiajia is currently attempting to get some work done, but this year is earlier and worse than Jiajia can remember in all her years of flying there to buy clothes for her store. The photos speak for themselves!
So Jiajia's holed up in her flat for now, amidst heavy thunderstorms, in the knowledge that she wouldn't be able to get to the markets she needs to, even if she did venture out. She did manage to Skype this evening though, to assure us she was safe.
Ava flew to Shenzhen on business 36 hours ago, arriving just before the heavens opened and an almighty rainstorm left 16 dead, with many streets and buildings flooded. Shenzhen airport itself was badly affected [see photo right], although the photo below (also said to be from Shenzhen airport) seems less plausible to me as the airline is one found elsewhere in China. Still, the wife is in wellie boots and mac, rather then her usual flip-flops and sunhat attire, poor thing!
Kunming hardly ever gets snow. I've only seen a light dusting once in my seven years here. But just see what we woke up to this morning! The temperature dropped fast over the weekend, and my students got very excited to see a flurry of "flakey rain" falling outside the classroom, though it barely qualified as snow. But overnight we've had a proper snowfall.
With our nanny away this week, "health and safety" is somewhat lower on the agenda, so I decided to try and make a snowman for JD. However, the snow started to melt through the afternoon and so it ended up as more of a snow rabbit! JD seems to have caught my cold from last week now (his first illness) so Jiajia and I are having to cope with a grumpy, stuffed-up little baby.
Kunming's been underwater for the last day or so. Technically, we are still amidst a four year drought (our tap water is still intermittent) but 12 solid hours of torrential rain, followed by persistent heavy showers, have totally overwhelmed the city's drainage (as usual for this time of year) and left large areas of the city with flooding. I know someone who risked driving into what she thought was shallow water, only to find her car floating, and then sinking. She quickly abandoned it and waded to higher ground.
We tried to drive JD to a scheduled vaccination today, but hit traffic at a complete standstill wherever we went. We saw two crashes within 500m of each other. Finally, when we arrived at a road with metre-deep water, we decided to call it a day and drove home.
Amusing photos of the flood have been appearing regularly on Ava's phone from her friends. One showed a canoe patrolling the High Street!
One of my students sent me this photo. He lives in a block of flats, and the "lake" below was formerly known as a car park!
But the one picture that made Ava and I laugh the most, was a photo of a sign being posted up around town by the local government. It tells citizens that the leaders are busy "rescuing people" and that the new sewers installed last year have done an "excellent" job. It goes on to state that sharing any pictures of the flood is now illegal since it "distracts from the image of the local government". Ooops!
Despite us fast approaching Winter, we've been enjoying some chilly but sunshine-filled days here in Kunming recently. Barely any rain for weeks though, which leaves us fearing more water rationing before too long.
Jiajia has been making sure Dorta enjoys the sun though, placing her on our balcony every morning, resting on her banana bed and sporting some fashionable shades. (Is there a more broody pregnant woman out there? I doubt it!!)
We've had some very odd weather in Kunming these last few months. Last month my parents witnessed snow flurries a day after getting sunburnt. And then yesterday, amidst a dry week of sunshine, we had a sudden half hour of hailstones! My lesson went to pieces as many of my students hadn't seen them before.
I occasionally mention my various health problems on this blog, so it's nice to be able to report that I seem to be feeling fairly well these days. No neck pains or dizziness for a while and I've recovered from the gout attack I had a couple of weeks ago. I suspect that the instant this entry is published, some new ailment will become apparent but, for now, I'm enjoying the moment and getting back to regular gym visits!
I enjoyed a nice lay-in today which was perfect timing, as it turned out, with Kunming experiencing torrential rain all morning. As usual the local roads just couldn't cope and my walk downtown was more of a swim [see photo], after which I met Ava and Emily (...recently returned from 2 years in the UK) for a nice lunch.
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