Surviving Beijing Fengsha (Sandstorms)

Surviving Beijing fengsha: This woman has it right. Cover your whole head with a scarf.

Surviving Beijing fengsha: This woman has it right. Cover your whole head with a scarf.

Sandstorms or fengsha are common each spring in Beijing. Of the many things I learned while living there was how to survive the onslaught. The sand is so fine as to permeate every nook and cranny of your clothes, windows and food. The best thing to do is to get a fine scarf and wrap it around your head in order to protect your eyes. If you usually wear contact lenses switch to glasses. Clean and reclean everything. Try to keep your food air tight. Don’t worry, it will be over in about a month.

I do not know enough about geography to determine if fengsha is caused by people or is a natural phenomenon. I do know that it can be quite annoying. Sand blown by the wind into your eyes will hurt, and if you are riding a bicycle you might crash. Don’t take the risk. Cover your head and eyes with a fine scarf.

There is no shame in protecting your eyes. Sandstorm in Lanzhou, Gansu Privince, China

There is no shame in protecting your eyes. Sandstorm in Lanzhou, Gansu Privince, China

I actually got used to eating sand while in Beijing. It sounds strange and I would not normally add it into my food, but living in Beijing you really have no choice as sand does get into everything. On the plus side there is no discernible taste, they are low in calories, have no trans fats and may even aid in your digestion.

On the negative side I witnessed many a Beijinger with very swollen and red eyes during this season. Sand is blown by the wind and is literally torpedoed full speed into your eyes. It not only stings but damages your eye.

Suffering particularly terribly are the children. Get them a scarf and wrap their heads in it. Some kids will detest having something so claustrophobic and will not used the scarf, but will be convinced when sand starts hitting their face. This I have witnessed in Beijing.

These boys have the right idea, using their hong lingdai as a mask. Lanzhou, Gansu, China by Xinhua

These boys have the right idea, using their hong lingdai as a mask. Lanzhou, Gansu, China by Xinhua

Whatever you do to cover up your face and eyes, do not put a plastic bag over your head. For those that do not see the obvious risk, the available oxygen in the bag will be used up and replaced with carbon dioxide, which will eventually leave you light headed. You will eventually faint and then die.

Don't put a  plastic bag over your head as you might suffocate. Feng Sha in Beijing, China

Don't put a plastic bag over your head as you might suffocate. Feng Sha in Beijing, China

There is always good with the bad. Once fengsha ends the air is clear and fresh, for at least a couple of days. Enjoy.

Chinese riders protected from sandstorms, Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China

Chinese riders protected from sandstorms, Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China

Properly protected from fengsha with a lovely scarf. China

Properly protected from fengsha with a lovely scarf. China

Sandstorm map covers a large area of China, from People's Daily

Sandstorm map covers a large area of China, from People's Daily

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