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Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been defeated by Chinese winter. I, who fancied myself the queen of cold, resilient to anything that southern China can throw at me. What is 0 degrees when back home we deal with -20! Well, I’ve now been completely humbled in my hubris. Yes, 0 degrees outside isn’t cold – a few jumpers and you’re fine, even if you look like the Michelin man. However, 10 degrees indoor is.

You see, south from the Yangtze River there is no central heating: it’s considered to be “the warm climate zone”, therefore we do not get cold (don’t you just love arbitrary decisions). Erm, I beg to differ. The flats get so chilly there’s simply no way of keeping warm inside, unless you keep your coat on at all times – which feels wrong but, in fact, it’s exactly what my classmates do. And then they open the windows, because apparently the air has to be exchanged every single second. Oh yes, they are tough.

I’ll admit there is some sort of heating: you can set your air-conditioner so it blows dry warm air. But using it constantly would give me an instant throat infection plus I’d go bankrupt on the energy bill. So goodbye to this solution and on I struggle.

To give you a small idea, here’s the complete list of the clothes I slept in last night (bar my unmentionables):

a pair of thin tights

a pair of socks

a pair of thick leggings

a pair of woolly leg-warmers

pajama bottom

two tank-tops

long-sleeved pajama top

a woolly jumper

plus – the crucial point – a scarf tied around my head.

This ensemble finally seemed to work and the main credit must probably go to the scarf. With 60% of my body heat evaporating through my head, it didn’t really matter how warm I was under the duvet if I couldn’t keep my head warm.

All in all, I can’t honestly say the nights I’m having now are the coldest ever in my life. No, that title still belongs to one lonely night in an empty remote hostel in New Zealand, which ended in me accidentally setting off of the fire alarm. This is, however, the longest stretch of cold nights in my life. And yes, I suppose I could invest in a portable heater, but I just don’t see the point in spending the money. I mean winter will be over in about 3 months, and during the coldest period I’ll be away for my Mysterious Holiday, so really, no point at all… Plus, there are actually two huge advantages to being cold most of the time:

1) Just like the famous Madame General Zajaczek, who supposedly slept on slabs of ice, I should be able to boost a perfect and wrinkle-less complexion (albeit with a red nose not unlike that of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer).

2) Being cold is a great excuse for constant eating. Hey, man, I need the calories! Pass me that peanut butter jar, will ya!

Survival kit – without these items I'd be gone.

Update: In case you don’t read the comments: I’ve been informed that my 60% head-loss of body heat is a gross exaggeration. Apparently it’s only about 10% now. Well… 10% still feels bloody cold! Oh, and of course immediately after I posted this it started getting a bit warmer (woolly jumper was a bit too much today), AND my Mum put a winter coat in my Christmas box – so it’ll get here just in time for me to pack it again and send it back… Life’s little ironies.