Are You Like the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?
Be A Kool Kat Instead
March sees the beginning of summer in Thailand so, now that the icy blasts of December, January and February are behind us, we can indulge in a bit of real heat. Summer is a good season in Thailand but many of our visitors, especially from the frigid climes of Europe or North America, may not be accustomed to an abundance of God given warmth. So a word to the wise on how best to stay cool. Cousins form Australia needn't bother reading further because they know all about heat and how to deal with it (hats off to Castlemaine, Fosters, Swan, VB and Hi to the P.I.N.T. Club in Darwin). Seriously, we want you to have a great visit to our Kingdom of Lanna-Thai so a few wrinkles on how to stay cool(er) will guide you in that direction.
Firstly, observe how the local Thais handle summer. Where possible, they stay in the shade and wear appropriate clothing. Lightweight cotton (T-shirts, skirts, shorts and trousers/slacks) is great because man-made fibres will turn you into a walking microwave. Also, observing the locals, always dress respectably when on public streets no need to be bare chested or breasted. Neither wear short shors nor tank tops Thais are very tolerant but no need to push your luck by dressing like a bum. Cotton is King and by covering yourself up you will avoid the risk of sunburn, A hat cotton or straw is great protection and a wide brim will give you a nice bit of shade if you have to be in the sun.
Next, plan your day to take advantage of cooler mornings and evenings. Most rural Thais, working outdoors, start early during morning coolness and then have a little relax, under shade, when the sun is at its height. You can do the same by starting your walks or treks early (6-7 am. is the time to see monks making their "binderbaht" rounds), followed by a relaxing lunch and rest (maybe in one of the air-conditioned spas or massage centers) even better if you can have a rejuvenating shower and short nap. Sightseeing can commence again in late afternoon and on into the evening.
Drinking plenty of fluids is good advice not of the Demon Alc variety (which dehydrate) but bottled water or electrolyte drinks are recommended. None of us seem to drink enough water and at least 3 or 4 litres per day is suggested. If urine becomes heavily discoloured, it could be you are not drinking enough water. A glass of iced tea (even hot tea) is a wonderful pick-me-up but coffee or fizzy drinks do not have the same refreshing qualities. Shake a little extra salt on meals (or Thai "Nam Pla" Fish Sauce) or pop a salt tablet to make up for sodium lost in perspiration.
Eyes can also suffer from glare and dust at this time of year. Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat will help avoid glare and using eye-lotion, such as Optrex or Eye Mo, will cleanse your eyes of dust and tiredness. Sun lotions are good for all exposed skin (with a blocking factor of 15+) and if you can use a lotion/insect-repellant combination, so much the better. Malaria is not a problem in Chiangmai / Chiangrai (or other Northern Thai cities) but mosquitoes are still around to give irritating bites. If trekking or moving around extreme rural areas then follow advice about preventative malarial treatment from a local doctor.
Except for essentials like wallet, passport, camera and other valuables, try not to carry excess baggage around on a daily basis. People (excluding trekkers) who haul rucksacks or huge handbags around the sights constantly amaze us. A small, lightweight bag/satchel big enough for your essentials, and maybe a bottle of water, is adequate and you'll be surprised by how much better you feel without that weight on your back.
Finally, your feet! They take a real pounding as you roam the hot streets or clamber around Chiangmai Zoo. Bare feet in sandals are fine and will make you feel cooler (beware sunburned feet!) but if wearing socks or tights then give your feet a bit of pampering. Regular dips in cool water plus the liberal use of a good quality foot-powder, balm or revitalizing foot-spray will keep you on your toes. As a pampering bonus at the end of the day, you will really enjoy a nice, laid-back therapeutic foot massage. And your feet will thank you for it! Be a Kool Kat in Northern Thailand! It's okay to go home broke but not with heat or sun stroke!.