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Alice Yang
Yang is a contributing columnist for the Fort Bend Star.
She is a student at Stephen F. Austin High School-FBISD.

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.

Sauna in the Southeast


According to my calculations, Iíve officially sweated more liquid than the amount of water taken in for ten days.

Ah! Finally, the much anticipated excursion to the East Indies. Wary of the intense tropical weather, I packed tank tops and micro-shorts along with extra sun block to battle the equatorial sun.

Upon arriving at Thailand, I took off my jacket and put on sunglasses as we walked out of the airport. Little did I know that not even walking naked with ice cubes taped to my body would cool off any of the laser sun.

My first thought was, woah, it felt like Houston again. Houston on the hottest summer day, a sauna-like car day where your hands melt from touching the steering wheel. Then, there was the extra humidity that would make even Houstonians blush. The frizzy curling of the hair, the formation of steamed dew on the tip of the nose, the damp filmy skin that makes you want to avoid coming in contact with your own mother.

Thatís Thailand baby, but much much more.

So after the initial frizzing, we all uttered secret blessings as we boarded the air-conditioned tour bus. Viewing Thailand through chilled window panes was a pleasure as I saw the beautiful heat but did not feel it.

But of course that didnít last. When we arrived at the first, of many, gloriously ornate and colorful Buddhist temples, I sprung from my bus seat eager to go out only to recoil with a spring when the opened bus door brought a shocking juxtaposition of wet, steaming air.

Outside, it was hot to the point of unbearable. It was the kind of weather that made you feel sorry for the steamed buns ate last night because now, you know their pain.

Plus, out of respect, the temples required long pants, closed-toe shoes, sleeved shirts, and at least a presentably groomed appearance.

So, with jeans starting to feel like slimy tights, shirt acting like second skin, shoes stenching it up over socked feet, and a face of beaded dripping sweat, I entered the temple trying to appear as respectable as any human would look under the delightful embrace of 100 (or even more) degrees.

We took countless pictures. One, two, threeeeee. And at the three, I jerked my eyes open for a split millisecond smiling ridiculously and lopsided for the camera before rubbing them furiously to alleviate the pain of salted sweat dripping in.

Pictures donít do justice to the grandeur of each temple, each gold-encrusted tile, each lovely scale of ruby and sapphire, each mosaic of glossed bronze. These were temples fit for kings, the exotic dream of Siam elevated to an equally exotic realism that ideal and reality becomes one.

Ha. But how we suffered for each plate of painted gold, for each jewel that gleamed in the Siam sun. It was as if they were all scions of our glorious star, eagerly helping with each radiating stream, conducting heat, back and forth, back and forth, like infinite mirrors, forming intense beams of pure light that if you were caught in the middle, surely one would melt you into hissing steam.

We came back to the bus looking like weíve spent a day at the sauna, or the neighborís pool. Limp, sweating, exhausted, hair gelled back with natureís best, shirt backs wet with prints of our spinal cords, and eyes red from all the salt, we stood under the AC vents like hair under a blow dryer.

Everyday, the most anticipated tour site was always the last: a hotelís shower and wonderfully dry sheets.

Yang is a contributing columnist for the Fort Bend Star. She is a student in FBISD.

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   Last Update:  July 18, 2007