Rainclouds and Snowstorms

First for the rainclouds…
It’s been a wet afternoon here in Hong Kong. Earlier, as I squeezed my way through the forest of head-height umbrellas that lined a crowded section of Hennessey Road, I got to thinking about the many everyday situations that the Hong Kong government has kindly issued guidelines for. There are widespread signs urging the public to ‘maintain cough manners’, an illustrated nine-step method for washing one’s hands, and enigmatic signs on wheelie bins across the city warning users to ‘beware of the shaft’.

Brollies in Xijiang

Mind the knees! © Jo James

One area of public behaviour that has thus far escaped the sign-writers’ notice is umbrella usage, which is particularly relevant in a city where many people use umbrellas for protection against both rain and sun, and something that is especially dear to my heart as a taller-than-average pedestrian. Below are my initial ideas for a new Pavement Code for Umbrella Users™:

  1. Umbrella diameter must be proportional to height. (Children with golf umbrellas, I’m looking at you.)
  2. Pedestrians with umbrellas must give way to those without, especially when the person without an umbrella is running.
  3. Umbrellas should not be used when walking under scaffolding or under shop awnings. If you have a brolly with you, you can just walk in the driving rain/beating sun.
  4. Umbrellas should not be used unless it’s actually raining/really sunny.

Have I missed any umbrella-related peeves? 🙂

And now for the snowstorms…
I was umbrella-dodging down Hennessey Road in search of gear for my next trip to China. After four months’ break – my longest absence from the mainland in five years – I’m heading to Sichuan on Sunday. I’m extra-excited for this trip because we’ll be travelling through a little-visited corner of Qinghai – new ground for me as well as my clients.

Chengdu-Yushu-Lhasa Map

Chengdu-Yushu-Lhasa Map

The map above shows our planned route in blue. The break in the line is shows the start of 250 kilometres of dirt road from Qumarleb to the Qinghai-Tibet highway, which we’ll join just south of the Kunlun Mountains at the hopefully named ‘Spring-that-doesn’t-freeze’ (不冻泉, Bùdòngquán) before driving on to Lhasa.

Landcruiser vs. Weather, 2010

Landcruiser vs. weather, 2010 © Jo James

As a whole, Tibet doesn’t get a lot of snow – lord knows where the region’s poetic nickname (‘The Land of Snows’) came from. However, over the past few weeks I’ve been receiving regular e-mails from our ground operator, telling us that there’s been another snow-dump somewhere en route, and warning us to abort mission if the snowy weather continues. Personally, I have my fingers crossed that the “bad” weather does stick around, as I’m pretty sure that Lhasa would be just stunning in the snow – if only we can get that far…

Wish us luck!

2 responses to “Rainclouds and Snowstorms

  1. 5. All umbrellas should have rubber cushions on the spikes, especially in Hong Kong where there are
    a) lots of short people who hold their umbrellas at eye level
    b) quite a few tall people with eyes at umbrella level
    c) crowded pavements and other pedestrian places
    d) lots of rainy days

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