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How to beat Vietnam’s heatwave

Monday, April 29, 2019, 10:08 GMT+7
How to beat Vietnam’s heatwave
A mother shields her child from the sun in this photo taken in Ho Chi Minh City by a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter.

First, hide in a fridge until November.

Second, flee any big city without access to a nearby beach or river that’s safe enough to swim in. Alternatively, if you have urban friends with swimming pools, drop by with gifts every day until the temperature drops below 30 degrees Celsius. Even better, ask if you can camp out next to the pool when your friends need some privacy. Throw in a deal to clean the pool for free too.

Power cut? No problem! Flip a bicycle upside down, attach some paper fans and pedal while eating dinner by candlelight in a refreshing midnight indoor breeze. Battery-operated fans should be mandatory equipment at all times and requests to borrow it must be refused at all costs, particularly from your partner. 

Another good idea from Stivi’s amazing mind is to stash a few T-shirts and shorts in the fridge for an hour or two before you go outside. That should give you about an hour and a half of chilled satisfaction while your friends faint in the heat. Remember that a small cooled towel tucked under your back collar works well too. When it dries out, stop off somewhere and buy some cold water to soak the towel or better yet, wrap a chunk of ice in that fluffy baby and you’re good for a few more hours. 

Now…you are going to be sweaty and that includes that naughty area between your legs. Leg and crotch rash is inevitable in these trying conditions, so I recommend Johnson’s baby powder be rubbed in that…ahem… spot. It will provide much relief from attempting to pretend that you are not in agony. Make sure you check in the mirror before going out as white powder stains dripping down the back of your legs are going to make people wonder what you have been up to…

If you’ve lived here for more than five minutes, you’ll have noticed the tough ladies in the flannelette shirts and rubber boots doing the construction. They were all born on Mercury and secretly immigrated to Earth. How they even survive the summer heat, let alone actually do stuff like digging ditches and building houses is beyond me. The older guys on these work sites also slave away in dirty long cotton shirts. Strange that they save money buying robust yet cheap clothes – maybe they’ve never heard of heatstroke?

Now it’s a strange thing here that finding super light cotton T’s is an unreal challenge. Everything here seems manufactured for a cooler Western climate. I find it hard to discover shirts suitable for the humidity here. Since a lot of material comes from China, I wonder if it’s a kinda revenge tactic by the Chinese. My own workaround is to buy undershirts that you’d normally wear as pajamas, yep, just the right thinness to deal with summer’s hammer of heat. 

A terrific notion is to measure your garden, front yard or bathroom and buy a local plastic mini-pool to fit the space. Heck, tell the girlfriend that you’re just about to throw a block of ice in it and she’ll be faster than a Vietnamese can count the money in your open wallet by sight. And you can drink to your heart’s content. To hell with the neighbor’s complaining about the noise, actually, sing karaoke in your little oasis with a microphone and make splashing noises. Bettcha they say nothing for a week – which could be a good thing!

I know what you’re thinking, ‘Why don’t I just go somewhere with snow?’ Well, Vietnam does have ice skating and snow skiing indoor so that’s worth a go too. Anywhere with air con basically; bowling alleys should be great fun too. And don’t ask me, there’s a semi-reliable and occasionally reliable thing called ‘Google’. Better yet, make lots of Vietnamese friends and get them to figure this out under the pretense of teaching them English. 

Heading up to the mountains can be therapeutic too. Da Lat and Phong Nha Park both have relaxing scenery, good hotels with pools and lots of riverside cafés/bars with cooling breezes. While you’re up there, forget baseball caps and tight-fitting hats – you’ll look like a mess in five minutes. The Vietnamese conical hat (non la) covers your head and shoulders while allowing the air to flow around the back of the neck. As silly as it may feel to wear one, you’ll fall in love with the simplicity of the thing quickly.

Finally, get some swimming practice and lessons for the kids. Its low impact gives you the chance to be thankful for your fitness program as the fatties around you slug in and out of the pool or beach. My excuse is being fatter protects me from all sorts of illnesses and gives me a warm glow of prosperity as I order another cocktail to balance on my tummy.

Eat lots of spicy Vietnamese curry too. The heat will quickly make you forget the surrounding air oven and force you to scream out for more “Larue va da!” (“Larue beer with ice!”). I’m sure you’ll cope with this untimely heatwave and set you up for July and August when things really get interesting. 

Avoid temper tantrums and saying hello to people you hate. Wear shades to hide your glares at rude shop staff and wrap yourself in an air of mystery. How cool is that?

Oh yeah, one last idea; buy a broken thermometer…at least that way you can pretend this isn’t happening!

Stivi Cooke / Tuoi Tre News Contributor

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