A razor-sharp wind cuts across my face. My fingers are numb with cold. I huddle in my seat, pulling a thick jacket tight around me in a futile bid to keep warm.
But I am not on an Arctic expedition. No, this is summertime in Hong Kong and I am on the Discovery Bay ferry.
I should not be surprised. This is, well … the tip of the iceberg. There is no escape from our city's glacial air-conditioning. We get the deep-freeze treatment on buses, in taxis and on the MTR. Shopping malls chill us to the bone. Cinemas offer blankets to keep patrons warm and office workers struggle in with extra clothes to guard against the chill.
Air-con mania is at its worst in the summer. Outside, the temperature soars above 30 degrees Celsius, turning streets into furnaces fuelled by gridlocked traffic and the wall-effect of massed tower blocks. Step inside, though, and the seasons suddenly change. The sweat dripping down our faces and soaking our clothes chills instantly. Temperatures recorded in shops and malls in recent years have frequently been found to be around the 20-degree mark, but some have been as low as 12 degrees.
This obsession with full-on air-con is bad for the environment and bad for our health. It requires vast quantities of electricity, making air pollution worse and contributing to global warming while dirty air-conditioning units increase the spread of air-borne diseases.
Nevertheless, the big freeze persists despite government encouragement to keep indoor temperatures at around 25 degrees. The latest effort was last year's "Energy Saving Charter on Indoor Temperature". Hopefully, it will be more successful than the Blue Sky Campaign a decade ago, which ran with that memorable slogan: "Clean Air for a Cool Hong Kong!"
Well, if you venture indoors, Hong Kong is certainly cool. Clean Air for a Freezing Hong Kong would be more apt.