Planet China

Cooling off

majiang w

With temperatures in Shanghai exceeding 40 degrees this month – and sweltering conditions extending across much of the country – the locals have been going to extremes to stay cool.

But few have shown the ingenuity of four mahjong enthusiasts from Xiangtian. According to the Sanxiang Metropolis Daily, they concluded that playing the game under water was the only solution to the summer heat. After weighing down a table with lead and selecting tiles made of polyurethane to stop them floating away, the four men donned diving equipment and started to play.

Mahjong is usually a noisy game. But that’s not so under water. “We cannot talk during the game,” said one of the players called Zhang, rather obviously. “Being under water we can only rely on hand gestures.” For example, an open handed gesture indicates the player has ‘mahjong’. There are also gestures for ‘pong’ (three of a kind) and ‘kong’ (four of a kind).

“Although it looks fun, not everyone can play mahjong underwater,” Zhang added. “Players must be certified divers.”

On a more serious note, the extreme temperatures hitting China are having an impact on local economies. For example, CBN reports that the number of tourists visiting Shanghai has declined 11.3% owing to the unbearable heat (at the same time the number of outbound tourists from Shanghai is up 65%). In nearby Hangzhou the heatwave has also had consequences for the famous Longjing tea crop. Shang Jiannong, president of the Hangzhou West Lake District Longjing Tea Industry, told CBN that the combination of extreme heat and drought has caused irreversible damage to local plantations. By conservative estimates, next spring’s crop is expected to yield 20-30% less tea.

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