Chapter 70: Tested Under the Shanghai Heat

oriental pearl tower
Under the fierce July heat in Shanghai, I was tested when the neighborhood filled with the din of a city works project.

Shanghai’s July heat has a way of testing you. Barely a month ago, you were still in that delightful Shanghai Spring — with its warm breezes perfumed in osmanthus and peach blossoms. But suddenly, the romance is over, and you discover you’re locked in a pressurized sauna. You almost have to part the humid-heavy air aside as you walk down the streets, now weighed down with moisture beading all over your face and body. It’s a public penance, where everyone must pay for those golden Springs and Autumns with molten, unbearable summers.

As July began to strangle Shanghai in searing heat and humidity, I felt strangled once again in my neighborhood as yet another source of noise and confusion marched through our lane.

The city of Shanghai decided our historic buildings needed upgrades on the water pipes and fire extinguishers. Since they scheduled the work in this scathing July heat — seven days a week, without a single holiday or weekend, until August 15 — there was only one thing to do: start earlier. Officially, they announced the working hours as 8am, but that seemed more like a suggestion when John and I began to hear the ruckus of drills and hammering outside our windows as early as 7am, and even 6:45am.

We moved here to escape the late-night garbage din, only to replace it with another. If the city of Shanghai pays for Spring and Autumn with the summer heat, I wonder — am I paying for past mistakes or bad karma with a neverending string of noise?

How has China tested you?


Memoirs of a Yangxifu in China is the story of love, cultural understanding and eventual marriage between one American woman from the city and one Chinese man from the countryside. To read the full series to date, you can start at Chapter 1, or browse the Memoirs of a Yangxifu archives.

3 Replies to “Chapter 70: Tested Under the Shanghai Heat”

  1. I had a rooster living directly outside my window for about 6 months. Every morning at precisely 6:00a.m. it began it’s “cockadoodledoo”. It was a perfect alarm clock, except that I didn’t need to get up until 7, and not every day at that. Mind you, I was living inside a school, not on a farm. Anyhow we endured this up until Chinese New Year, at which time the noise mysteriously stopped…we think the neighbors finally cooked him up for New Year’s dinner.

  2. Was in Shanghai last week and Beijing a week earlier. Beijing was as hot in May as Washington DC is in August. Shanghai’s temperatures varied.

  3. I’m “hoping” to get to experience a real Shanghai and Suzhou summer this time. I’m going to China together with my husband and my parents this coming Sunday! My parents only stay for about 1 week, but my husband and I are staying until early July. Last year I went to Suzhou and Beijing in May and even though the temperature hit well over 30 degrees C, I found it very comfortable and I only needed to use the airconditioner at night.
    25 degrees C here in Scandinavia feels way worse, and add no airconditioner to that 😉 I’ve had about 30 degrees C in my bedroom at night, in Sweden, and that was just next to a wide open window!

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