How to stay warm in Shenyang

I did something today that I never thought I’d do…

Underpants for Shenyang

I bought spandex.

Well, fleece lined spandex to be exact.

But really, when it’s still October, and it’s already 30º F (-1º C), in the famous words of my awesome sister, “You do what ya gotta do.”

For those who don’t know, Shenyang is in northeast China. It’s near the Koreas, Russia, and Mongolia. And ridiculously COLD.


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I knew that it gets cold here before we moved. Everyone who knew where Shenyang is told us that. Repeatedly. (Right after they said… “why would you want to move there?”) So I knew it.

But I didn’t really KNOW it. I still don’t. It’s October. But we’ve already been getting little glimpses. Last night on our way out to catch a cab for dinner, it was snowing. In October. As in, BEFORE Halloween. I mean, what the heck? We get excited back in SC if it’s cool enough to wear long sleeves for Halloween. Most years it isn’t.

It’s very unfortunate that most of the winter clothes I have are still in boxes somewhere between here and the US. (Actually I think they are in Dalian sitting in a customs warehouse somewhere. I’ll post soon on the details about all of that, but for now, let’s just say China likes lots of paperwork.) But even when we get the shipment, I really don’t OWN a wardrobe for this type of weather.

Truthfully, I’m not even sure what to buy for this kind of weather. What are you supposed to wear when it is -40º outside?? My brain can’t even fathom -40º. All I can picture is the kid from A Christmas Story so wrapped up he can’t even move his arms.

“I can’t put my arms down!”

“Put them down when you get to school!”

I may just become a hermit. Our apartment is nice and warm. I hear the market down the street will deliver groceries. So does KFC, Pizza Hut, and McDonalds. Now if I could just learn enough Chinese to be able to order what I want I’d be set.

So anyway, back to the pants.

I had heard through the grapevine, that the natives wear long johns under their clothes to keep warm. Makes sense, right? Well, after our little walk in the snow, I decided I needed to get some. So on my shopping trip to Carrefour this morning, I happened upon a rack of them. I was surprised. I always thought of long johns as being made of a thin knit material that fit really close to your skin. Well, I was right about them fitting really close to your skin. These things are like a wetsuit. Lined in fleece. And they’re thick. Now I’m really nervous about the weather I have to look forward to if I have to wear a wetsuit to keep warm.

Here’s something else I never thought I’d have to do.

Clothing sizes in China

Did you see the size on these things?? This is especially disconcerting considering I lost around 20 pounds over the summer before we moved. I now wear a Size 6 in most American clothes. Turns out the whole diet thing was a good idea. I doubt I would have even been able to find a XXXXXL. Then I really would have been up a creek with nothing but jeans to wear.

I noticed another really curious thing as I was going through some of the sizes. Most of them have 2 numbers to denote size. One is a waist and one is a length. I’m assuming. But here’s the thing. As you go up in one size, they automatically go up in the other also. So one pair I picked up was a 165/95. The next size up was a 170/100, and a 175/105. There is no such thing as a 165/105.

So they automatically assume, if you are bigger around, then you are also taller. Or if you’re tall, then you must be big around.

You tall, skinny people are out of luck.
Lucky for me, I’m neither of those things. And I’ll be warm tomorrow.

Well, warmer at least.

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8 thoughts on “How to stay warm in Shenyang

  1. Hi Kristen,
    I laughed so hard reading this blog….you are too funny. You were so small before…can’t imagine you loosing 20 lbs. Maybe if you just gained your weight back, you would have enough natural insulation so you wouldn’t need the thermals…..
    Hope you guys are doing well. Sounds like you are very adventurous and very happy. Lots of love, MerryLee

    • Now that’s an idea. Gain it back. Although actually a bit difficult considering the kinds of foods we’ve had available. It’s kind of hard to eat enough squid & tofu to gain weight. It’s no wonder Chinese people are tiny.

  2. I am so glad I found your blog!!!! We also might be moving to Shenyang (my husband’s company is there) in February and it gives me a very good insight on what to expect from a North American viewpoint. Your blog is very funny and entertaining. I have stupid questions…like what TV channels will I be able to get? Will I able to watch Grey’s Anatomy or Desparate Housewives? My afternoon soaps? How restrictive will be my internet be? Will I be able to find my favorite junk food? Atleast they have MacDonalds!!! LOL..
    I am from Canada, and hate the cold and the winter. I never leave the house, unless I absolutely have to, when it is cold and snowy!!!
    Thanks for writing your blog.

    Chery

  3. Pingback: What to wear in Shenyang: Layers

  4. To this day I can’t figure out size. I try it on or buy one and check it first. Course i also but things from home and have family ship to me! : D