Thursday, 4 May 2006

The sun still rises from the east but...

I remember when I went to school, we learnt that the sun rises from the east and sets in the west. That fact of the matter was never doubted for an instant. Every morning, I would clearly see the sun rising from the east and without fail each evening the sun will set in the west.

When one bought a house in Malaysia, he or she will see to it that the house was facing east so that the house gets much of the rising sun which is not as hot as the setting sun. That said, most houses in Malaysia are linked or in Kiwi terms town houses. That means one would only need to worry about the front. In all likelihood if it is not an end unit, both the sides are somebody else's problem and the back as well. When I mean somebody else's, I mean there would be another unit on all the other sides. And if you don’t belong in the “circle”, in all likelihood, the back unit will be so close you can whisper the latest gossip and still be heard - that’s how close it can be so no sun will get in there!

In New Zealand, what one looks for in a house is very different. Well, we heard about this and somewhat knew this but until today, it did not really hit me. In New Zealand, the fact that the sun rises from the east and sets in the west has holes as big as the sun all over it!

When one buys a house here, it is important that it faces north! That is because over here, the sun does not travel the half circle over your head but takes a rather gentle curve rising from the east and setting in the north. I also learnt in school that at noon, one can't see your shadow because the sun was over your head. That may be true elsewhere but you may need to lean like the tower of Pisa to get no shadow here. So that explains why my sun dial did not give me the correct time. This was why I was at work before 7 every morning. The days I am in at 8 are when I used my trusted battery operated watch.

Being in a cold climate, one would want to heat up the house as much as possible. So, the house needs to be facing north to get as much of the setting sun as possible. And since most of the houses here are detached, the movement of the sun is important so that a house gets most of the sun as it makes its day round.

Earlier I said it did not hit me till now. That is because I am currently working in an office in Auckland, seated in a room 27 floors up with a view to kill for and also one that gets the rising sun. For some reason, the rising sun in Auckland is just as hot as the setting sun. Anyway, when I came in I thought “hey”, when the sun moves to the other side I won't feel so hot. How wrong I was! The sun travelled from one window on my left to the other window on my right. All the time the sun was on my back, literally.

Now after being in this building for a week, I mean in this sauna, I not only had a crash course on the sun, I think I have also developed a tan on the back part of my head and neck!


joshua said...

interesting analysis of the sun. many years ago, when i pick up photography, i wondered why the travel pictures are alway so nice. blue skys and flattering shadows (instead of those harsh ugly ones under one's nose and eyes) even without coloured filters.

then i figured 'cos the sun rays are always angled when you depart from the equator (the refraction causes us to see the blue spectrum of the light). so the blue sky we get early in the morning and late in the afternoon in m'sia or s'pore, can be seen throughout the days elsewhere.

Shagen said...

Interesting observation Joshua. Now I knwo why we always get really blue skies when there are no clouds.

Mamak said...

So does that mean the science books there are different? Thank God you don't defy gravity up there when you are down under!