The sea of umbrellas

2 June 2014

Literally. Pink, blue, green and red check, watermelon pattern and bunny ear-shaped umbrellas. And this very sea transforms happy, chilled-out Hong Kong individuals into impatient, weapon-wielding grumps. Before the rains, you were making your way through the crowds and dodging the shop goods overflowing onto the busy street. Now, on top of the people and other obstacles, you are made to duck and dive to protect your eyes.

Hong Kong City Welcome to springtime in Hong Kong!

And then, suddenly, the sun is out. Many of the umbrellas remain but they serve a different purpose; protection from the harmful UV rays. The humidity levels are rising; 83% to 87% and up. Discomfort changes from wet feet and damp clothes to perspiring brow and fanning yourself with whatever you can find. You live for the air conditioned room, be it the 7 Eleven or your office or the sanctuary of your apartment.


Welcome to springtime in Hong Kong! The place where you truly only ever know the weather forecast by looking out the window. In springtime, primary school students don’t tire of the question, “How’s the weather?” Each day, there’s an ever-changing range of excited responses. 8am: “It’s a sunny day, teacher.” 10am: “There is thunder and lightning! Eek! It’s a storm.” 12pm: “It’s cloudy but very hot today.”


The weather in May is far from ideal in Hong Kong but it’s also not the worst time to plan a trip to the city. Even though the humidity levels are increasing, it’s ideal beach weather (when it’s not raining) and if the ocean is within reach, who cares, right? If you’re willing to put up with the odd (sometimes frequent) rain shower, you’ll be just fine.


However, if you are planning a trip to Hong Kong in which you want to visit many of the tourist sights and outside attractions, the best time to come is very early spring, from March to April, and late autumn, from October to November (when the days are still warm and the air clearer).


But for those of us who live here, a pair of Wellington boots is in order this year. As well as a bigger umbrella than all the others. And a new hand fan for sure.

Philippa Francis

Over the last few years, I have fallen in love with travel and I am not sure I will be able to stop, except for my other great love; writing. After studying journalism at Rhodes and Stellenbosch Universities, I wanted to get a taste of the bigger world. I have worked all sorts of jobs and I have saved. I have ‘bused’ around Europe and backpacked around south-east Asia. I have seen magical sights and met wonderful people from all walks of life.