Seriously, I do not understand the whole air conditioning use in otherwise incredibly hot Third World countries. It defies rational understanding and I challenge you to come up with a good reason for this small bit of insanity.
Basically in almost every hot Third World country it is apparent that the air conditioning has only two settings: broken and maximum.
It never ceases to amaze me. You are walking around, let’s say Colombia, and it will be about 90 degrees Fahrenheit/32C with 90% humidity and you will be sweating from every pore on your body. You are sweating from parts of your body that you would have not thought had sweat glands to start with.
You get on your overnight bus and they have to AC set up so high that you could hang meat there without running the risk of it spoiling…. ever.
As a result, you need to be prepared. If you don’t board your bus with long pants on and some sort of sweater or blanket, there is little chance of you getting a moments respite as icicles slowly form on your lower lip. I kid you not. When I am taking an overnight bus in Central or South America or SE Asia, I wear jeans, wool socks, boots, a T-Shirt, and a fleece zip-up.
And there have still been at least two occasions where that has not been enough layers to keep me warm enough to avoid sleep-killing shivering. Once, on a bus from Cape Town to Namibia and another time on a bus in Ecuador, I actually saw the locals arguing with the bus driver at stops about the air con.
His reply? “It isn’t too cold. We don’t have it set very low at all.”
What I don’t understand is simply… why?
The locals that live in these climates are very used to the hot weather. In fact, the amazing thing is seeing them walk around on a normal, hot day wearing jeans, boots, two layers on top, and sometimes even a winter coat. When they visit the US or Europe, then inevitably talk about how brutally cold it is — even when they are talking about temperatures around 60-70F/15-20C.
Then the same folks think very little of bundling up in all their winter clothes to hop on the bus. I simply think the whole thing is funny, and also annoying to a certain degree. And almost completely inexplicable.
Hell, I am amazed they even sell winter clothes in some of these places. Well, I was amazed, until I encountered the Third World Air Con Phenomenon.
It isn’t just buses. The bar of the hostel I am staying at right now in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia also has its AC set on high constantly. So you bounce in from the patio around and walk right into a freezer. The train I took up here from Singapore was so cold that I had to get up and go to the area between the cars 5-6 times to defrost.
Why? Why? Why?
Also realize that these are usually countries with fairly severe energy generation problems. And what is one of the biggest drains on any electrical system? Air conditioning.
The best I can figure is that is is some sort of pride thing. “Hey, look at us, we have working air conditioning here. Want to feel how amazingly good it works??”
Except no, I really don’t want to feel it. If I wanted to go to Norway in the early winter…. you can fill in the rest.
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