Weather in Suzhou

Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
Trip End Jul 24, 2007

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

June 19, 2007
Suzhou has two kinds of weather: air conditioning (AC) on and AC off.
It has been three days since Bobby, Ben, and I arrived in Suzhou, and, unfortunately to us, it had been AC off. 
The weather bureau is located at the front counter of the hotel we are staying at.  Naively thinking that the AC was not functioning correctly after we flipped all the possible switches in the tiny, threadbare hotel room, we went down to ask the front desk to fix the AC as we went out to get dinner.  By the time we returned to the room, Ben and I heard the assuring, moderately loud hum of a ventilation mechanism.  The relief was short-lived; the air was not cold.  It finally occurred to us that the central AC was off!
The receptionist at the front desk is a mild-mannered girl with few smiles.  Asked why the AC was off, she said, "AC will not be turned on today.  The weather is cool enough."
The temperature in Suzhou has been in the 80's and 90's since we were here.  Technically it wasn't bad, and I guess anyone can get by, if necessary, without AC.  But has anyone noticed the humidity?  It can be a killer to someone who is not used to the weather, jet-lagged, culture-shocked, and almost illiterate in Chinese.  Such is the case with Jeff.  Jeff and his group came to Suzhou for a short-term language and culture study, and they are having a tough time dealing with the AC off days.  Judy decided to buy a simple purple electric fan after learning that the forecast of the "weather bureau" had been inexplicably set at AC off.  The rest of the group is still coping, with a simmering anxiety that some health problems may pop up any day now.
Weather stayed AC off until last night.  The weather bureau decided that the weather should change.  When the first breath of cool air blew down from the ventilation grid, Ben and I both looked up, unbelievably.  We threw open our doors and saw other people of the study-abroad group popped their heads out in amazement.  It was as if we were the villagers who got the first raindrop after years of draught.
Weather, as unpredictable as it is, changed to AC off sometime during the night.  As I woke up this morning and peeked outside the window, I anticipate the forecast for day - AC off with 50% of scattered shower.  Humidity: 90%.
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