How to Deal With a Heat Wave in China

You improvise -- in ingenious ways.
waterfightbanner.jpgA water fight in Shanghai on July 21st, near the beginning of a record heat wave in China. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

It's been hot in China. Really, really hot. For the last 24 days the temperature in Shanghai, for instance, hasn't dropped below 95. This isn't a dry heat, either: think Atlanta, not Phoenix. The current heat wave -- which is expected to continue into the first part of August -- has already claimed 11 lives in the city and has had an effect on business.

In a crowded country where many homes lack air conditioning, China's people have to get creative in order to escape the heat. One option is public pools -- but these can get a little crowded. How crowded? Consider this image, from an artificial pool in Suining, Sichuan Province, which looks like it could have come from Where's Waldo.

swimmingpool.jpgChina Daily/Reuters

A school gym in Wuhan, like Shanghai one of China's famously hot "furnance cities", doubled as an impromptu dormitory for dozens of students:

wuhanschool.jpgReuters

Then, in Shanghai, there are the nicely air-conditioned subway stations:

subwaysleeping.jpgReuters

And, in a video that has gone viral in China, reporters in Shanghai tested the hotness of the city's sidewalks by -- attempting to cook a slab of pork. After 10 minutes, the pork was reportedly 80 percent cooked.


One group that has not kept its sense of humor about the heat is the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau. Annoyed at myriad reports exaggerating the temperature (which, they dutifully reminded us, never exceeded a still-completely-ridiculous 106 degrees), the Bureau has begun fining citizens for promoting and spreading "unauthorized weather reports."

Matt Schiavenza is a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He is a former global-affairs writer for the International Business Times and Atlantic senior associate editor.

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