The trouble with the tropics

is it me, or is it hot out here?I suggest men and the faint-hearted now look away…

When we first arrived in Malaysia I’d look at the number of umbrellas that the Asian women used here when it wasn’t raining and hurrumph. How vain were they to protect their already gorgeous olive skin from the sun?  You’d never get me doing that!

So there was I, with what my doctor calls Type A skin (which basically means the vulnerable, moley, freckly, blotchy kind that never goes a decent brown) and told to wear sunblock ‘”every day. I mean it. Even if it’s not sunny. Even in the car.” But he didn’t tell me to use an umbrella.

Being a good girl I did as I was told and always put some on my face before going out. OK, maybe not if I’m popping out in the car to a mall, but always if I am going to be exposed for more than a minute or two. If I sunbathe, which I do only rarely because it’s boring, I wear factor 50 and sit under a sunshade. If I have to wander about for any length of time I wear a hat, even though it makes my head sweat.

But now it seems I’ve reached ‘a certain age’ and it is as if someone has put on the central heating. Everywhere. Inside the shops. In the car, with the fan full on. In the middle of the night when the a/c is on arctic and Ian’s wearing winceyette pyjamas. What’s worse I am getting sweatier and sweatier, yes, even with deoderant. I have developed the habit of pressing my arms against my sides whenever I meet someone. I wear nothing with a waistband that clings to my waist. I realize that trousers are cooler than skirts because the feel of my damp thighs touching is frankly, revolting. Sorry, folks TMI. But it’s true. Until recently I had no idea how much a forehead nor the tops of feet, can perspire. I’m sure menopause must be bad enough for women in a Norwegian winter, but out here, with the temperature in the 90s and humidity often up near 100% it’s not funny.

Maybe it’s not just me?

Recently, we hosted a couple of chaps who were cycling from Australia to the UK. They arrived on my doorstep, complaining of prickly heat, left their putrid shoes outside (thank God), availed themselves of my washing machine and flung themselves up against the air conditioner.

“We’ve had this painful rash night and day for four days,” said Tristan. “We looked it up on the Internet and the advice for getting rid of it was to be in an air conditioned room until we could get completely cool. We’re on the road or camping out all the time so it’s impossible.”

“You’ll enjoy our pool, then?” I suggested, telling them to make themselves at home and giving them pool towels.

Two days later and they had still not left the house unless it was dark. Not even to swim.

“We can’t,” said Geraint. “The moment we step outside the prickly heat comes back.”

It took them three days to recover. I know how they felt.

It is equally hard for me to cool down to the core for any length of time living here and particularly with this dodgy internal thermostat I seem to be landed with at the moment. I wish all it would take for me to recover was three days indoors. I too only swim when the pool is in the shade. The water is cold and for the first time in my life as a complete wuss, I’m delighted.

Luckily there are measures I can take to help myself cool down without recourse (yet) to standard HRT. And while Dr Christiane Northrup’s book, The Wisdom of Menopause is packed with advice I’m testing my own brand of Heating Reduction Therapy…


my HRT kit

20 ways to reduce what the Chinese call call ‘body heatiness’

  1. I now drink iced coffee and wait til my builder’s tea is cold before I dare drink it.
  2. I’ve started drinking sage tea (sounds disgusting, but actually it’s rather nice).
  3. Always one famed for an asbestos mouth and wolfing my food, I wait til it’s stopped steaming before daring to take a bite.
  4. I keep my hair off my neck. I had no idea that the back of my neck would suffer most from this midlife affliction. Now I ensure there is always a hair clip or a bobble in my pocket.
  5. I’m trying to exercise more, so there’s a fitbit step counter in my pocket.
  6. I’m cutting down on sugar and try to satisfy the craving with a date.
  7. I always bags the seat under the fan or nearest the a/c if I eat out.
  8. I know that it is wise to keep a wet towel in the freezer. Oh the bliss of it on the back of that pesky neck. Sometimes I keep a wet towel beside the bed too! Oh, take tissues or a small handtowel out with me. I think of them as my ‘mop’.
  9. I put the a/c on in a room a few minutes before I spend time in it.
  10. Not only do I have pairs of reading specs in every room of the house these days, but now I have a fan too. And, more important of all, there’s one in my handbag at all times.
  11. I engineer Ian to agree to holiday destinations that are experiencing winter if at all possible.
  12. I’m embracing every alternative remedy that others swear by (yes, I did check with an expert that I’m not going to overdose!) and wait patiently for them to take effect:  geranium essential oil in the dimples in my lower back, clary sage and geranium oil on my soles, wild yam gel rubbed into my wobbly bits.
  13. I’ve discovered vodka has a less adverse effect on me than wine (yay!). And yes, I am cutting down on booze too. And yes, it does make a difference. Bugger.
  14. I put ice (to cool down) and soda water (no sugar) in the vodka!
  15. I’m following my wise consul, Siv Harestad’s, body reflexology treatment three times a week. You can find it here on YouTube.
  16. I’m doing a grounding yoga practice, as recommended by my friend and yoga teacher, Cecilia Gotherstrom, as often as I can.
  17. I have a Headspace meditation App on the iPad and use it.
  18. I’ve booked in for a six-session program of acupuncture with the wonderful Mrs Ju. I’m two sessions in and hopeful. Honestly, she said it would only take six!
  19. I also use a thing called a Ladycare magnet but you’ll have to look up what I do with it because explaining is maybe way TMI.
  20. And finally, you guessed it? I now take an umbrella whatever the weather and use it. You can get them with a UV protective layer and you know, it does make a difference.

So maybe, the women who carry umbrellas are not protecting their skin after all?

Oh, and by the way… I’m still hot!

PS the Chinese swear by chrysanthemum tea. Shall I check it out?

PPS Please share your own remedies with me. 20 life changes appear not to be enough.

4 thoughts on “The trouble with the tropics

  1. Thanks for sharing these tips, Jo! You might just try a trip to NL, in summer, as it’s very cold and rainy here. I’ve been taking maca root powder, which made my hot flashes go away. I hope you will be cooler soon!


    1. A month later and I have at last discovered three things that are helping:

      Being in a cold country!
      Sage leaf pills
      Aiming a fan directly on my face at night.I bought a Bionaire table top fan. It is light, looks like an a/c and has improved my nights by 100%.

      I have also ordered a Chillow pillow that keeps the pillow cool all night.


  2. Hi Jo, thanks for bravely sharing! I find the vitamin supplements for menopause help (they include sage, which you’ve mentioned) and soya which I understand mimics hormone production. When I stopped taking the tablets last summer (because I’d run out and forget to buy some more) my hot flushes increased. Thought would mention. When I lived in Singapore (and Houston) I used to put a flannel in the fridge, then wipe my limbs over with it before I went to sleep – sexy! Lol.


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