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Preparation key to coping with cold

By Tiffany Tan (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-01-06 12:04
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"Just take enough warm clothing," was the refrain from sports and fitness experts I consulted on how to prepare for a trip to "China's North Pole".

They were right. It was four to five layers of clothing that allowed me to survive temperatures of -30 C to -45 C.

Underneath my green down coat was a red woolen turtleneck, which covered a brown cotton turtleneck, which hid violet polyester long underwear and the base layer of black cotton long underwear.

Concealed by my bright pink ski pants was a pair of shiny black down pants and a pair of black polyester long underwear. I also wore a beige woolen scarf, purple ski gloves and two layers of woolen socks inside snowshoes.

"Make sure there's enough room for air to circulate between layers," Dong Hexin, 32, a Mohe cab driver, said when I told him what was in my luggage.

The only reason I didn't wear a cotton mask over my nose and mouth - like most locals did - was that it would have worsened the frost on my glasses. I decided to forgo contact lenses after consulting an eye doctor.

"The trouble with glasses is they fog," said Dr Jesse Caguioa, chief optometrist at the Asian Eye Institute in Manila, but "our biggest concern with contact lenses in such negative temperatures is that they'd dry out".

I was terrified by the possibility of the contacts freezing into fish scale-like discs - and cracking - while on my eyeballs.

I also found useful advice online: Get adequate sleep before and during the trip, and keep yourself hydrated. A bottle of hot water, I discovered, can double as a hand warmer between jaunts outdoors or as a "hot water bag" while in bed at night.

I brought disposable heating pads for my cold feet, but I barely felt their effect. After 20 minutes outdoors I began experiencing a throbbing pain on my forehead and it became difficult to think or speak.

My toes and my fingers would feel painfully frozen and heavy, and I'd get nightmarish visions of frostbite. While in a panic rush back to a heated car or room, I'd question the sanity of my winter expedition to Mohe.

But I survived Mohe's dreadfully cold winter. I think I've now earned the right to see it in summer.

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