Leave With Caution

I woke up at 5am this morning feeling too much anxiety to bother getting a proper night’s sleep (got home after midnight after a huge evening of celebratory drinking at the FCC, more on this another time).  My flight to Beijing (a lone night’s stopover before NYC) takes off at 5:30pm tonight, and I have still to 1) arrange and submit my preliminary application to the Law Society, 2) clean my flat, 3) pack all my gifts, some clothes that I’d like while in NY, important papers needed to complete my taxes, 4) possibly buy another last minute gift or two, 5) figure out what prep course I will be taking for the Conveyancing Head.  A tall order, truly! But that doesn’t include the greatest one of them all — preparing for the humidity!

Leaving HK for roughly one month in July required quite a bit of thought, actually.  It’s just soooo incredibly humid that without any sort of planning, you risk coming home to wet walls, mold, all kinds of damage to clothes, shoes, everything!  Not that my apartment didn’t already have plenty of dehumidifying carbon packs, sold at all supermarkets, home goods shops, and pharmacies in HK (and similarly humid places, like Taiwan), but since my last scattering of these odd little plastic boxes that suck in water, back in May when I moved in, I bought a whole new set, as the old ones are all nearly full!

I was advised to close all the windows, including the two air vents in the kitchen and bathroom.  I’d thought that leaving a window open a crack would be the way to go, even though we are also in rainy season, and I could risk flooding my house should there be a black rain, but that would be completely wrong!  So I’ve instructed my one-week sublettor to be sure to lock it all down and to flip on the dehumidifier (the machine).  My two closest girlfriends, who are also away, but not for nearly as long, will be checking in on the apartment to empty out the dehumidifier from time to time.

And yet I’m still terrified of a massive mess awaiting me when I come home!  I can’t even begin to explain how destructive the HK humidity can be — and not just to the human body while climbing up the hills of HK, but to all your physical belongings! It is just a terrible terrible force, and I hate it when I’ll pull out a dress or some other item of clothing from my closet only to find it unwearable due to mold, and I can never be sure if I can even salvage the piece!

The first time I’d discovered the power of humidity was earlier in March, when HK is actually normally not so humid at that time of the year (so dehumidifier sales were remarkably high, and it was hard to locate any in the stores).  I was subletting Vicky’s apartment, and I remembered touching the wall to turn on the lights one day to discover my hand wet.  I also noticed an odd mold had suddenly appeared all across the ceiling, and clothes were musty, damp or covered in patches of mold. Yuck!

I’d never had to think about such a thing back in NY, even though we do have some fairly extreme weather conditions too — just none like this!  So remember to leave with caution if you ever take a long break from HK, and to prepare in advance!

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