Winter in Hanoi is super challenging for a southern beach boy like me. Today, there are more signs of warm spring, though it's very wet and quite cold still inside the house. Hanoi's humidity makes the 'feels like' temperature several degrees lower or higher, depending on the season. The cold gets into my bones. The heat I don't mind. Winter tourists upon arrival don't seem to notice but within a few days they are seeking out the jumper shops.
The other problem is the lack of heating. Hanoians tend to tolerate it because the deep winter is not that long. They wear their coats and wooly hats inside while they're watching television! This year I've bought a cheap Chinese heater which is actually only useful when it is blowing directly on me and will probably put our electricity bill through the roof. I've also bought these water bottles that plug into the electricity and heat up in a few minutes. So I am prepared much better than my past ten years in Hanoi.
Another way to keep warm in winter in Hanoi is to eat smart. On the streets, trying hot sweet potato or cassava, steamed buns and even boiled corn from a mobile street vendor while crowding around their heated cart give a few minutes of warmth. Rice porridge and hot pots are my other favourites at this time of year.
Winter time is also a time that I put on weight even though I am very busy with work, because winter food in Hanoi is mostly pretty heavy and deep fried. This sometimes means I have to buy winter clothes for my expanding waistline. Hanoians actually love that they can get out of T-shirts and shorts in winter and they go quite crazy buying and wearing heavy clothes. I don't go crazy but I did buy a jumper the other day in the Old Quarter. The worst part was taking my many layers of shirts off to try it on!
I'm sure it won't be long now before people are complaining about the heat.