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Keeping Cool in the Tropics

The Tropical Zone

The Mekong Region (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam) generally have a much hotter climate than most foreign visitors are used to. This is because most of the region is tropical, lying between the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn. It experiences warm to hot weather all year round, and at times a great deal of moisture. If people are unfamiliar with dealing with a tropical climate, they may struggle to get comfortable. There is also the risk that their inability to stay cool could put their health in danger.

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Dangers of Excessive Heat in the Tropics

Many foreigners who arrive in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam and Myanmar often usually overjoyed to see the sun and experience a bit of tropical heat. This is especially true when people have just come from winter in their home country. While the heat is initially welcome it can later become an annoyance. The dangers of excessive exposure to the tropical heat include:

  • One of the main dangers associated with the tropical heat is sunstroke. This potentially life threatening event is caused when the body is forced to deal with more heat than it can manage.
  • If people feel too hot it interferes with their ability to concentrate. This can increase the likelihood of having accidents.
  • Some people deal with the tropical heat by drinking alcohol. This only exacerbates the dangers.
  • When people feel too hot it leaves them feeling tired and grumpy. If they experience this most of the time it can completely ruin their holiday.
  • Excessive heat may exacerbate the symptoms of any health problem the individual may be dealing with.

How do Local People Stay Cool

The local people in Phuket have grown up with the tropical heat so they have a great deal of shared wisdom for how to deal with it.

  • Local people in the Mekong Region are renowned for their calm approach to life. This is one of their secrets for staying cool in the heat. Unlike many foreign visitors they are not rushing about the place or getting overly stressed about things, and this means they are not generating as much body heat. Of course this has changed to some degree in the modern cities, but generally people take it easy even there.
  • The people of the Mekong Region are also for their fun loving attitude to life. The fact that they are so focused on the pleasant things in life means that they are not distracted so much by the heat, or at least try to not let it show.
  • Many of the Mekong Region people are Buddhist, and they believe in the idea of the two arrows as it relates to discomfort. If people become irritated or annoyed by the heat it greatly worsens their discomfort – it is like they have been hit with a second arrow that they could easily have avoided.
  • The people of the Mekong Region tend to make the best use of any available shade in their environment. This helps them avoid being in the direct rays of the sun.
  • The locals tend to take a number of showers throughout the day, when possible. This has a refreshing effect and it removes any stale sweat – it also cools them down.

How to Keep Cool in the Tropics

There are a number of things that people can do in order to stay cool in the tropics including:

  • When people rush around everywhere it causes their body heat to increase. It is best to take it easy and never rush in the tropics.
  • Prickly heat talcum powder is good for helping people feel cool and refreshed.
  • If people wish to engage in strenuous activity it is best to do this in the early morning in early evening.
  • It is best to avoid alcohol drinks or caffeine during the day because they can lead to dehydration. If people are dehydrated and excessively hot they are at risk of developing sunstroke and this be extremely serious.
  • During the day it is nice to visit department stores because they will have air conditioning.
  • It is usually best if people avoid wearing dark clothing in the tropics because this tends to absorb the heat. Light colored and loose fitting clothing is best.
  • Eating too much food during the day can lead to increased discomfort due to heat. This is because the body will have to work hard to digest the food – thus producing more heat.
  • Those individuals who have long hair should be careful to keep this well tied back.
  • Some people like to keep cloth bags filled with rice in their freezer. They can then use these for comfort when it feels too hot outside.
  • If people are stuck inside without air conditioning they should stay near a fan and close the curtains. It is also a good idea to turn of electrical appliances as they can create additional heat.

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