What's the difference between "O" and "20 Below Zero"...?

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January 16, 2008...Coldchun City, China...Okay, I've been harpin on the fact that there's cold and then there's C O L D...and add an "E R" to this word and you get the chilling visual...The citizens of this city have it down pat...Let's say this: PETA followers would have a hard time wearing non-fur coats under these conditions...I mean really, when you go back a few thousand years, and even a couple of hundred with Native Americans, there was a reason they wore WARM PELTS to keep from freezing in their steps... My nose serves as an able "thermometer" as sorts, and when I have wandered away from the hotel outside to take a Taxi during the DAY, my nose starts to wiggle and waggle...Waggle? A waggle by nostril definition is a motion that doesn't go left to right, but rather the septum raises up on its own as if to telepathically tell me: "What? Are you nuts? YOU shouldn't be out in these elements with the "jet intakes" you have...you trying to freeze me off your face?"...And then I hustle into the cab and began a quick defrost as we speed away...That's the meteorological report of the last week here...One reminder to anyone who comes North of Beijing: bring your Thermals, upper and lower, and some thick wool socks, not that it matters but psychologically you feel like you're protecting yourself a lil bit...

Okay, here is my installment on "Items that one should not leave out of their suitcase when visiting China..."...

Late Summer Visit: Drs. Pepto and Bismol, the "best friends" money can buy as your digestive system "adjusts" to the cuisine...Claritin D or just plain ol Claritin; this will stabilize the affects of smog and dust in the air when you're outside for an extended time (sightseeing, etc.)...Altoids...and the new product, Altoids Gum...Man, those two items were best "pals" for me during my initial stay and also carried me through "dry" nights during these winter months when I chose to keep the heat off in my room (it was soooo dry, I'd wake up like I'd been hiking in the Mojave Desert)...Vitamins C, E, B-12 Complex...even though the Fruits available here are unbelievably delicious, it's not a bad idea to bring your own vitamin supplements...Tissues, hand type variety...they come in sooooo handy when you least suspect they would...small bottle Hand Sanitizers...these are Man's Best Friend in this country...when you visit a hotel restroom or airport restroom and read a sign by the sink that says to "Conserve Water" and then you watch grown men WALK RIGHT OUT of the restroom, well, it's just nice to know that you can wash AND clean your hands with the sanitizers...Bring lots of patience when it comes to trying to get somewhere and your hotel key doesn't seem to "register" with the Taxi drivers...how to avoid "problems?"...Have the Concierge write down on the Hotel Stationery in Chinese the place(s) you wish to visit and then on the backside of the paper, the name and address of the hotel WITH THE PHONE NUMBER...I have found that the Concierges' in most of the Hotels where we stayed as a team during the season, most helpful, and trust me, the Chinese are true professionals when it comes to Service...The Staff here at the RedBuds Hotel are wonderfully trained and continually amaze me with their customer service applications...Case in point: my Anta Team Bag was damaged recently by the airline, unbeknownst to me until I got back to the hotel, and now I need to have it repaired and I completely forgot about it...So, today I took it downstairs, showed the Bellmen and Concierge personnel my dilemma, and immediately said they could repair it...I was so happy to hear that, one, because I really like the bag (wheels on the bottom), and two, it was FREE and the best bag I owned at the time...broke down and bought an unbelievable carryon like Airline Crews have for a GREAT PRICE at one of the largest Marts for International Business Exports...But, now that I'm leaving China, I need to get this bag fixed, and they're taking care of it...Light sweaters in the Spring evenings will keep your Polo shirts warm to your body, as it does cool down in the evening in early Spring...Summer? Forget about it! It's just plain HOT and SWEATY time for 3 and a half months...in Beijing that is...maybe longer...Bring a small Chinese/English Dictionary to help you with simple word identifications...don't overpack...in fact, go look in your closet right now, or even the clothes your wearing and I would wager a bet that the label says "Made in China" on probably 90% of your clothes...jackets...hats and tennis shoes...all that means is this: you can find at a very reasonable price, the same clothes you buy at home, HERE...and their brand new...So, pack light, expect to spend around $200 on some nice shirts and other items...Visa is accepted at most Malls here, but there are some significant amount of stores that only accept Yuan, the Chinese currency...By the way, if you're planning on coming over here, I'd recommend you "change" your budget dollars NOW into Chinese Yuan, as it is dropping daily...When I came here in September, the Dollar was equivalent to almost 7.50 Yuan...today it was 7.17!! I get the feeling it will drop even more as the Olympics approach this summer...just a suggestion...There are some other items I'd recommend you bring for the most part, but I'm at a blank right now, as the "cold" has sneaked into my room and I'm shivering, which means that I have to turn on the "blast furnace" for 5 mins., drink a bottle of water and then turn it off...Okay, hope this helps a lil bit...take care, safe travels, and best wishes to all in your daily lives, I miss the NW very much and my Family and Friends even more...Coach tom

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