RocketNews 24 (by Aleisha Riboldi):
With the mercury reaching 39 degrees celsius in the city of Hangzhou in southern China, residents are trying to keep cool in the most unusual of places. Citizens without residential air conditioning have turned to parking themselves in subways, libraries and other public spaces to escape the summer heat wave.
Calling themselves the “Summer Solace Group,” hordes of Hangzhou residents have been taking over public spaces as they attempt to seek refuge in air-conditioned venues and enjoy the comfort of being cool. Apparently, one of the most popular places to seek a respite from the heat is Hangzhou subway station. For the last few years, it has been a popular place to flock to in the heat of summer, as those living in housing without air conditioning seek somewhere to just chill out.
Some people are making themselves right at home there, too, bringing along mats and cardboard to lie on and food, drinks, games and books to pass the time and get a reprieve from the heat.
It’s essentially a home away from home for those without the luxury of private air conditioning. It’s not welcome by everyone, though, as there are public health concerns in relation to the rubbish being left behind such as cigarette butts, food waste such as watermelon rinds and corn cobs, and human excrement as young children freely do their business out in the open rather than in toilets.
The station management has been forced to turn off the air conditioning at times to deter people from hanging out in the subway, in addition to setting up designated areas to confine the public space they occupy.
Some Hangzhou residents have had the smarts to find more comfortable places to keep cool such as public libraries and at the IKEA furniture store which opened earlier this year. Invading the sofa and bedding department, a much more luxurious escape from the heat wave than a subway station, people are literally parking themselves on sofas within the spacious air-conditioned complex. This no doubt has the side effect of making things difficult for those who’re legitimately trying to shop for home furnishings, though, as they have to navigate through an IKEA with throngs of people loitering around the showrooms.
Unbelievably, parents are even putting kids to sleep within the model display bedrooms, much to the annoyance of IKEA staff.
Everyone here is looking pretty relaxed and settled. It would seem they have been lounging around for a considerable amount of time, passing time on their phones, catching up on sleep and listening to music. They certainly don’t look like they have any intent on making purchases within the store, nor to be in a hurry to leave anytime soon.
Air conditioning is a luxury many of us take for granted. When it’s nearly 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in a place as densely populated as China, one can hardly blame people for seeking out an air-conditioned haven, but where do you draw the line at what’s acceptable? What lengths would you go to in order to escape the summer heat?