“Why are you so sweaty?” Why the Irishman is so sweaty in Taiwan

I recently hit my three-year mark in Taiwan back in September 2019. For anyone reading this that hasn’t met me, yes, I’ve only lived in Taiwan for three years. That’s still a tad shocking for people that hear me speak Mandarin and hear my thoughts on societal topics. I suppose I haven’t been around long enough to get a firm grasp on Taiwanese society, but I feel like I have a better grasp than a lot of long-time “expats” and foreigners.

So, I hit my third year mark, and my one comment in all those three years I need to address is the question of “why are you sweaty?”

Because Taiwan is so goddamn hot.

Humidity isn’t the problem

I grew up in Ireland. Situated next to the freezing Atlantic ocean and a neighbour that was awfully fond of colonizing, and leaving the European Union unsuccessfully, Ireland isn’t exactly the French Riviera.

Here’s the thing, Ireland is, on average, more humid than Taiwan. Yes, you read that right. On average, Irish daytime weather has an average of around 80% humidity, compared to the Taiwanese 73% to 80%.

Like Taiwan, Ireland is a small island next to a massive continent. Although Ireland is twice the size of Taiwan. Yes, I went there. If you’re wondering what a comfortable humidity level is, it’s roughly between 30-50%, and this level also helps prevent the growth of mold.

So, Ireland is just as humid and muggy as Taiwan, but yet I sweat much worse here than Ireland. Why? Because it’s freaking hot as hell here, and daytime and nighttime temperatures don’t really vary.

The difference in temperature – Dublin Vs. Taipei

Summer in Ireland is my favourite two days of the year!

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to use two city examples from Taiwan and Ireland. There are a lot of factors that affect climate and weather, and it makes sense to keep these examples to places I’ve lived in.

What you’ll notice about Dublin below is that the average minimums and maximum temperatures are relatively mild. Of course, the last few Irish summers have been particularly warm, but on average, it is not unheard of to have temperatures barely getting over the 20s in summer. Oh, and we have a mild winter too.

Dublin average temp

When compared to Taiwanese average highs and lows, you can start to see why I feel so warm in Taiwan, and my partner feels so cold in Ireland. It’s night and day.

Taiwan average temp

16 degrees in Ireland (Taiwan’s lowest average temperature) is considered light jumper weather. I mean, seriously, just spend 1-2 minutes comparing those temperatures above. No wonder I look like an ice cream melting in the sun. I’m in temperatures that my body would think mean the end of the world. Added to that, the high humidity in Ireland makes these colder temperatures feel colder, while the Taiwanese humidity is like, “Oh boy, you are gonna be sweating!”

The average precipitation also show a huge difference

Average Taipei precripAverage Irish precip

So there you have it. The humidity combined with higher than normal temperatures for my body are to blame. I’m sweat because it is simply my body not having adapted to this climate yet.

Funny enough, when my partner went to Ireland with me, she felt freezing in 16 degrees weather. If you’re American and can’t calculate that into Fahrenheit, then I invite you to review those temperatures above. While I was in a t-shirt and jeans with sunglasses, my missuses looked like she was trekking the Antarctic. She was a little bit weirded put by my comfortability in weather was just in the low teens Celsius.  When you look at temperatures above, it should start to make sense why I’d start to sweat, even at just 25 degrees.

Acclimatizing myself slowly

For a while, I had an affair with the AC unit. It took care of me in a way nobody else ever could. It kept me comfortable, and allowed me to do simple tasks without having to worry. That bad boy would run at a comfortable 19 degrees; at the dismay of my partner who said it was ‘fucking cold’. I don’t blame her. For her, 19 degrees isn’t shy off Taiwanese winter weather, while for me it is good summer heat.

I decided that I needed to end my relationship with AC and come back to reality. As much as AC is nice, I’m limited only when the weather hits the 30s, and keep it at only 23 degrees. I’m told 23 degrees is still too cold. Whatever.

For the last 2 months, I have given up AC, and it remains unplugged. The first few weeks sucked, but gradually, I got used to feeling warm in my bed. This is coming from a guy that use to keep windows open in Irish winter when it was minus 8 degrees because it was comfortable to sleep in a cold room. If my parents ever found out I was the reason why the heating wasn’t totally working because heat left my room, I’d be dead by now.

Well, I’m hoping that by the time next summer comes by, I can just survive on a fan. The more I let my body feel warm, the more likely I’ll not sweat as much. I’m not joking on the sweating front. I feel disgusting after walking outside for only 15 minutes.

You know what’s the worst part? When I get on the MRT after sweating like crazy, the sweat on my shirt gets cold and I’m stuck with this sickly feeling of cold sweat hitting my skin. Yeah, I want this to end.

Closing thoughts

I love Taiwan, but Jesus goddamn Christ, I need to get use to this heat. It’s been three years and I’m still sweating like a waterfall when the summer hits. Hopefully, I can acclimatize, but I don’t remain hopeful.

Another fear is that if I acclimatize, what would happen to me if I go back to Ireland for an extended period of time. Will I find 16 degrees unbearable? I really hope I don’t turn into this kind of person. I’d have to give up my Irish citizenship, I think….

Tomás Swinburne

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