Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oh the Heat and Humidity!

When I first visited Penang I couldn't help but notice the difference in heat and humidity.  Boston  has some very hot and humid summers that are as bad or worse than the weather here. I had developed chronic sinusitis, had surgery for it and thought the climate in Penang would help my condition. My sinusitis was effected by even slight changes in temperature, humidity and even barometric pressure, so I thought that with the same weather all year long I would not suffer as many symptoms. My ENT physician also thought that the move to Malaysia would benefit me, at least temporarily.

I have lived here for almost 5 years now. I knew when I first moved here it would take some time for me to become acclimatized to the heat and humidity. I actually thought I was doing a good job getting used to the weather. First I started to get used to the heat and then slowly to the humidity. My biggest problem was breaking out into a rash whenever I walked too much around the area. I have always had a constant supply of baby powder around me. I couldn't walk without it! I don't know why, but I seem to sweat more than people around me. For quite a while I felt as though I had finally become use to the weather. Now I am frustrated.

In the past month or so the weather seems to have become much hotter and much more humid than it has been in the past. Even local people who have lived here all of their lives are suffering. My sinus problems have returned with a vengeance and I am not alone. I have talked with very many people who now have sinus problems for the first time in their lives. People, including myself, complain of constant fatigue, listlessness and stomach problems. For a long time I didn't post here because I was too hot and exhausted to muster up enough energy for my brain to work. Even now I am sitting at the dining room table, with 2 fans on and sweating profusely. I don't want to have to turn the air conditioning on 24/7 like many expats do, as this can be quite expensive and doesn't help me to adapt.

Viewing the destructive hurricanes, typhoons, floods and droughts all over the world I can't help to think that global warming does exist. Winters seem colder and snowier, summers hotter and more humid and storms more severe and more frequent. I am afraid  that the world has only just begun to see climate changes. No matter where one goes in the word they are not going to find perfect weather. I guess I'll just have to get used to it!


  1. Have to say I don't find the heat and humidity here too bad, but then my last reference point for several years was the Middle East, the UAE in particular. Temperatures in the high 40s (and often breaking 50ºc) in summer and humidity levels at between 80 - 90% + make this seem like paradise. Indeed I'm grateful for the acclimatisation that the Middle East gave me, not much else mind ;-)

    Having recently moved more inland and up in to the hills just recently I find that helps too such that I'm now often able to do things without even the fan(s) on. Like you I prefer to avoid A/C. The cost I don't mind so much as the dreadful feeling I get from A/C use where in the Middle East its use is almost essential 80% of the time. Stiff muscles, dry eyes and throat and constant colds.

    I do know that a lot of people struggle with the heat and humidity here though, especially those with underlying respiratory disorders and I have to say at times it has seemed hotter than even last year. I suppose in some cases personal circumstances merely make adjustment more easy for some than others.

    If it gets too hot, there's really only one solution, more Tiger!!!!!

  2. Thanks for continuing to post.

    My wife and I visted Penang a couple of years ago. I was scouting it as a possible place to retire. While on the ferry we ran into a retired jail guard who repeatedly warned me about the terrible troublemakers on the island and to watch my valuables. Having grown up in NYC during the 70s I thought it would be a return to the good old days :)

    I must admit that safety is an issue for me. We have lived in Japan for almost a decade and I can leave my front door unlocked without issue. I actually left my wallet in the movie theater and they called to apologize and ask if it was too much trouble to come and pick it up. Perhaps you could post something about crime ?

    As far as the heat goes, yes I agree its an issue. In NE Asia we get temps around 35 with humidity topping 80% at times. Its brutal because there are no trees so the pavement turns into an oven. However we can handle it without too much AC.

    I know the traditional British solution was to have a 2nd house up in the mountains. Does Malaysia have such a location ? The cooler temps and higher elevations also help reduce mosquitoes. Again just curious.

  3. Thanks Donpaulo for your comment. Back home in Northern New York state I can remember many people had summer homes (cottages) on the St.Lawrence River or Lake Ontario where they would escape the city heat and humidity. I really don't know anyone here who has a second home here in Penang. Cameron Higlands is the palce to visit to escape the heat. It is an area in the mountains where a lot of produce like tomatoes, lettuce etc. is grown. It is a very beautiful and refreshing place.

    Regarding your question on crime I soon will post something about safety here. I'll try to get it done within the next couple of weeks. Thanks again.

  4. I regularly visit Malaysia for 3 months a year to escape the Canadian winter and I have no trouble with the 35 celcius weather and the humidity. I remind myself of the weather back in Canada and the -18 celcius temperatures then I'm good with taking two showers a day and a little sweating , no big deal. In regard to crime it's like anywhere else as most crimes are that of opportunity so you use common sense and don't flash money or wear a lot of jewelry and avoid desolate areas at dusk.

  5. I guess Malaysians are accustomed to the humidity whitch Is anywhere from 80 to 100% most days. I didn't find it too bad when I was there on vacation but I don't know if I could live in that soup year-round. I guess many people wonder the malls and stay in the shade most of the time because the direct Sun is brutal. I stopped thinking about the weather so much and enjoyed the food whitch is quite good and reasonable. People are nice too. It is a tropical country after all. One thing though in Kuala Lumpure there is a lot of autobile smog because of the traffic congestion , and virtually no breeze at all so I guess eventually they will have to address the air quality in those traffic conjested areas.