People in Hong Kong have short memories. One day into the slightly cooler weather just before Christmas ("an intense winter monsoon", according to the Observatory) some were already complaining. "Oh, it's so horrible! Will this cold and rain ever end?" It seems to be people from freezing, damp, snowy countries who complain the loudest, and soonest, when the temperature in these parts starts to drop. You would think they loved the heat - but no; as soon as it goes above 25 degrees, it's all moan, moan, moan again. "It's so hot, I can't stand it!" they whinge, adding, as though making some groundbreaking discovery: "It's not the heat you see, it's the humidity." Me, I'm happy as long as it doesn't snow. "Cold? You don't know what cold is!" I think to myself. Cold is when you have to get up three times in the night to start your car so the oil doesn't freeze. Still, as I was dog walking on the morning of the second day of slightly lower temperatures and a few droplets fell, I couldn't help but think of my beloved Xinjiang. Talk about "it's the humidity" - in Xinjiang the humidity must be minus 20 per cent. Temperatures up to 40 degrees are nothing compared to the desert winds that assault your skin, sucking every milli-droplet of moisture out of it. The people there look 20 years older than they are, and bear a vague resemblance to the desiccated, red-haired 3,000-year-old mummy in Urumqi's Museum of Natural History. Out there, huge, menacing black clouds build up at night and you think they might herald some relief from the heat, but all you get are dust storms. Evening meals at outside restaurants are like sitting inside a hair dryer and in Tulufan (also known as Turpan) only mad dogs and Norwegian women (me) go out in the midday sun. But even I carry an umbrella for protection against the brutal rays. Xinjiang is, of course, in Central Asia, and I used to criticise China for invading, I mean "taking it back", in 1949, but now I'm glad it's part of the motherland so that I can go there with impunity and enjoy proper Sichuan food. It's only four or five days away by train and you only have to take cold showers about twice a day. Paradise! Still, you get the feeling that those who complain about two consecutive days at 13 degrees in Hong Kong would find things to moan about in Xinjiang, too.