We are entering the most humid time of year in Hong Kong. This means we are emerging from the “dry” months, in which relative humidity falls to 70-75% (average), and entering the “wet” months. At 85-95%, I start thinking it might as well rain because I’m already soaked anyway.
It’s so humid that…
- bath towels are perpetually damp, laden with a sour smell
- bread, left sitting out on the counter in its original wrapping, molds in two days or less
- concrete walls wrinkle and bubble around the windows, thanks to moisture seeping in around the sills
- books, papers and photos are often damp and/or molded, sometimes ruined
- stores devote entire aisles to moisture-collecting items: electric dehumidifiers, containers of dehumidifying material meant to be placed in closets or cabinets to pull water from the air (large versions of those little non-edible desiccant packets we find inside bottles of medication)
- new envelopes that have been sitting in a drawer are already sealed shut; same problem with postage stamps
- mold grows on walls behind furniture (I’ve helped several friends move, and we were all shocked at what was growing behind wardrobes and bookshelves)
- an acoustic piano or guitar should be purchased locally (not shipped from abroad), as the wood has been specifically treated to withstand damp conditions
- I gave up on hand washing sweaters; if it takes over a week to dry, I’d rather pay a bit more and send it to the cleaners
- some of the electric circuits in our church shut themselves off every few days or so, and I’m told this is because the breaker box is located in a humid hallway; (I’m not an electrician and, therefore, cannot verify this; also, the building and electric wiring is quite old)
- when the weather suddenly warms up after a cool spell, moisture forms on concrete floors, walls and ceilings. It looks like someone has just come through with a mop or spray bottle; hence Chinese idioms such as, “the walls are crying”
- preparation for baking includes hacking away at the sugar canister with a knife
- a friend of mine purchased several pieces of high-quality wood furniture here and shipped them to a dry climate; the wood shrunk so much that doors and drawers were non-functional—seams between the legs and sides of a dresser came apart completely
- my double-walled, "sweat-proof" plastic drinking cups have moisture trapped between the layers
- it takes a herculean effort to keep on top of the mold growth in already-damp places such as bathroom tile, bathtubs, sinks, and the dish drainer
- people say, “don’t take a deep breath outside or you’ll drown”
- I recently ran an old pair of slippers through the washing machine; they took two weeks to dry
- mold grows under the lid of my toilet seat (because I refuse to leave the lid up)
- for most of the year, I walk around dripping with sweat, clothes drenched, hair wet and stringy, mopping my face with tissues; I probably look like a drowned rat.
They say that long-term exposure to humidity is good for the complexion. I say a drowned rat with nice skin is still a drowned rat.