Winter has once again descended on Hangzhou. Most of us can agree that we like the idea of a winter wonderland but not so much the reality of living through it. It’s not as bad as places up north like Harbin – where it is literally cold enough to build ice castles that last for months without melting – but that doesn’t mean the cold is comfortable! If we’re being honest, winter can sometimes feel like a pack of dementors has migrated south for the winter and sucked all of the energy and motivation out of us (Hello, Harry Potter). But aside from eating copious amounts of chocolate, how can we best protect ourselves from the creeping chills of the season? Here are some suggestions…

1. Layer Up

Chinese Woman Wearing Warm PajamasWearing an additional layer under your clothes is a no-brainer when it comes to staying warm. Did you know, though, that you can buy fleece or fur lined leggings? While these may run thicker than typical long-johns, they sure do insulate well. You can buy these almost everywhere – from street vendors, to small boutiques, to malls, to supermarkets. If you’re not interested in thick under-armor, try Uniqlo’s clothes line called “Heat Tech.” These clothes are an ultra-light weight material yet they manage to keep you snug and warm.

PROS: When you’re bundled up, you’re warm whether you’re indoors or outdoors (see number 2 for the significance of this statement).

CONS: You have to strip your layers like an onion any time you do go inside. I, of course, mean the outer layers like coats but having your thermals on can make the indoors too toasty for comfort if the space is adequately heated. The worst part is getting all of those under-layers off when you need to use the bathroom – especially in times of emergencies.

2. Invest in a Space Heater

Unlike cities north of the Yangtze River, the majority of Hangzhou’s buildings don’t come equipped with central heating. Try to get around this most obvious design flaw by buying a space heater.

Chinese Space Heater

PROS: Those of us in the south consume less energy keeping warm by using space heaters. It’s good for the environment and your utility bill! You can find space heaters in all shapes and sizes at most supermarkets like Vanguard (华润), CenturyMart (世纪联华), or WuMart (物美).

CONS: Due to their limited range, the space heaters often fail to heat an entire room (let alone a whole home). Don’t be surprised when you encounter a pocket of chilled air when you move too far away. This means stationing multiple heaters throughout the house or carrying the heater from room to room as needed.

3. Buy a Hot Water Bottle 

There are so many of these available ranging from the traditional red, rubber bag to more stylish options. With the traditional bags, you need to add the preheated water yourself while modern models are electric and come with a built in heater. Scoff all you like, but these babies can make a world of a difference for your poor fingers and toes.

China Hot Water Bottle

PROS: Many of the modern designs are formed around stuffed animals, so they’re easy to snuggle with in bed. Speaking of bed, hot water bottles warm up a frigid bed faster than your measly shivering and shifting can do alone. They hold heat for a decent amount of time depending on the make and model. Even when the warmth starts to fade, they’re easy to reheat (either by adding new water or plugging it in).

CONS: Carrying these things around can be a pain no matter how cute they are. It’s like lugging around an extra textbook at times: heavy and cumbersome. Also, you better hope it doesn’t get a hole and leak on you. Wet clothes and cold weather don’t mix – even worse when it’s your bed sheets that get soaked. Now that’s a nightmare!

4. Heat Patches

These heat adhesive patches come in different sizes for different positions on the body. The most common places to put the patches are on the stomach, lower back, and feet (specifically toes). To use them, you simply open the package and adhere the patch to your undershirt or socks. You can find them in stores like Watsons, Mannings, and Family Mart.

Chinese Heat Packets

PROS: They’re cheap, comfortable, and disposable. The ones for toes are especially effective since the toes don’t generate much heat on their own. Best of all, you can use them on the go without having to worry about them weighing you down.

CONS: They don’t last long which ultimately means you’ll be changing your patches often.

5. Electric Slippers

While we’re on the subject of toes and their vulnerability, might we suggest investing in a pair of electric slippers. These are especially useful if you find yourself  trapped behind a desk for a hours at a time. They work very much like an electric blanket for your feet!

China Electric Slippers
PROS: Snuggly warm feet, duh. But, unlike the heating patches, you don’t have to remove your shoes to reapply the heat. The heat is in the shoe!

CONS: The cord is only long enough to reach from the wall to your feet. Don’t expect to move around much when wearing these for obvious reasons. Also, because your feet will be toasty warm, they will most likely sweat. Sweat enough and your cozy slippers will start to carry a not-so cozy smell. (That being said, can someone tell me how to wash these things?!)

6. Drink Hot Water

Not only is it good for your overall health, drinking hot water can keep your insides warm. You can use it to make tea or instant coffee if you don’t like the taste of plain water.

Electric Hot Water Pot
PROS: Free hot water is available almost everywhere in schools and businesses alike. Did we mention it’s good for your health? It gets the blood flowing and helps flush out toxins – thus preventing you from catching a cold.

CONS: You’ll have to go to the bathroom a lot (refer back to number one).

Just because the weather outside is frightful, doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Hopefully these tips will keep you warm as we move forward into the new year. As always, if we forgot to mention something or if you have a useful tip of your own please let us know by leaving us a comment below.

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