Part 2 of an eight part series on observations of the Philippines. View the index of all eight entries.
If you’ve read any of my blog entries about our trip at all, you know I wasn’t a fan of the weather in the Philippines. If you know anything about me personally, you know that I’m a pretty big guy. I guess I’m not “fat”, but I’m definitely not “thin” either. “Thick”, maybe? The doctors say a man of my height (6’5″) should weigh 185 pounds. I way 260, and that’s down 45 pounds from where I was about 12-18 months ago at my all-time high. I weighed more than I do now when I was a teenager, and I’m only 25 pounds away from where I was when I graduated high school (my lowest point since I was like in diapers or something). Yes, I dropped a bunch of weight in high school tool. Parenthetically, the doctor’s expectation that I lose another 75 pounds is utterly insane. The last person that told me that, I looked them in the eye and told them that 100 years after I die, my skeleton will still weigh 185 lbs. And I’m way too in love with peanut M&M’s and granola to even think about that anyway.
Okay, with all that context, you can see why I’m not up for the heat and humidity of any tropical island, but let’s hash out the details.
The Philippines is an island group in the South China Sea, a few hundred miles SE of Hong Kong (on the SE coast of China), and only a few hundred miles north of the equator. So, to start with, there is blazing sun all the time. There are only two seasons, the wet season and the dry season. The dry season is a 4 month stretch from mid-December to mid-April, and every other time of the year, it’s raining. They experience about 25 typhoons (their word for “hurricane”) per year, so we’re not talking about light showers either.
So, at their highest, temperatures are pushing the 100ºF mark. In the debt of winter (their dry season), temperatures plummet all the way down to an icy 70ºF. That (and when they’re taking the bus) is when Philippinos bust out the parkas and heavy mittens. Poor John-John is going to be a little Philippino popsicle by the time Chicago winter is done with him. On the bright side, he’ll get to see snow for the first time in his life in a couple months.
All the rain, as well as the position of the island off the Pacific relative to the currents and so forth (blah blah blah) makes the island very humid too. They say, though I had nothing to measure it, that humidity is routinely in the 85-90% range. Every day. All day. So, blazing sun, 90+ºF, and 85+% humidity does not a happy fat kid make. Ugh.
The lack of air conditioning in most places (that weren’t posh Asian hotel chains) didn’t help. The fans in almost every room did. The lack of A/C in cars didn’t help either. The fact that they drove like maniacs with the windows down created a breeze that did. The horrible polution and constant breathing of jeepney / tricycle fumes exasserbated the heat too. You especially noticed these when their maniacal driving led to gridlock on the “highway”.
Nights were cooler … down to like 80ºF with the humidity as high as ever. Without the constant use of fans and a typical breeze through open windows, I wouldn’t have made it. There were a lot of bugs – ants, spiders, moths, gnats buzzing around lights, and the like – but not misquitos or flies, like there are in America. Got to be weather related, but couldn’t explain it to save my life. Maybe it was just too flippin’ hot for them too; who knows.
Well, that’s pretty much it for the weather. All this talk about the exhaust and fumes and other general craziness of the driving side of things has got me excited to get to the driving entry. That’ll be fun!