Stickman Readers' Submissions August 10th, 2010

Bring on the Rain!

There are a myriad of words you can use to talk about rain, and over the past few days I think I could accurately employ just about every single one of them. At various times it has been: misting, drizzling, sprinkling, lightly but steadily raining, storming
(both with and without thunder and lightning), coming down torrentially, coming down in buckets, cascading, and let us not forget pouring “cats and dogs”! Anyway you want to put it; it has been wet to put it mildly. This is no big
surprise, since we are in the most intense part of the rainy season here in Thailand. Actually it’s been raining heavily all over Southeast Asia lately.

The annual monsoon began in early May, and we certainly have had our share of it in Lampang. Most of the rain though has usually come at the end of the day in the form of thunder showers. These generally last for less than an hour. The rest of the time
the skies have been mostly sunny.

He Clinic Bangkok

The really heavy rains occur from August through October. It doesn’t rain day in and day out, week after week, but the odds are pretty good that we will see heavy rain at least a few days during the week. Needless to say, I never
venture out without an umbrella. Actually I have a number of umbrellas stashed at strategic locations just in case. I keep one in my truck, one hanging by my back door at home and one in my office at school. I also have a small travel umbrella
that can fit in a shoulder bag. Not long ago my family and I drove up to Mae Sae, which if you’ve never been, is a Mecca for folks looking for shopping bargains. My ever frugal wife bought two umbrellas, a real steal at 80 Baht for the
pair. They were real beauties too; large and well constructed. Undoubted they will see some used over the years.

It’s not that I mind occasionally getting wet, even soaking wet. It’s that I don’t want to be dripping wet during the work day. After school I consider it an early….and well needed shower! I’ve ridden home a few times on
my bicycle a few times through a sudden deluge. That was a bit iffy. Negotiating the road with Thai drivers is bad enough in broad daylight on a sunny day. It only gets worse when Somchai swerves to avoid a puddle, and either
soaks you to the bone, or forces you off the road completely!

If you’re Thai and a motorcycle is your only means of transportation, you have no choice but to deal with inclement weather anyway you can. During the rainy season this means carrying a rain poncho along. I have one myself; a day-glo orange special,
but I rarely wear the damned thing. The truth is that I’m hot enough without one. Wearing even a relatively thin bit of plastic makes me feel I’m in a sauna, or more accurately a steam bath. I’d rather just be wet. Thais of
course are rarely if ever too warm. Even on days when I’m sweltering, I see Thais wearing jackets. Raincoats often don’t seem to be enough though for motorcyclists. That’s when you do a classic double take on seeing one of
them holding an umbrella while racing along at a speed entirely too high for road conditions. Oh yeah, like driving one handed is going to improve your driving ability!

CBD bangkok

If I were clever and had the inventing ability of Edison, I would devise a transparent lightweight folding rain canopy that would protect driver and passenger alike. As I have the mechanical and engineering ability of Mr. Bean, any entrepreneurs out there
who could design and market such a product and free to take my idea and run with it. I actually think it would be a success.

Whether on two wheels or four, all, if I have any choice in the matter, I prefer not to be driving in the rain, especially on the highway. I remember a number of years ago driving on Route 24 from Korat to Buriram in the pouring rain. I know that many
of you have made that journey. Do you remember what that road was like when it was only two lanes? (Thank God it’s four lanes now!) For those of you who have never driven that way, this highway is a major truck route. It
is often difficult if not impossible to overtake another vehicle safely. Apparently the word impossible isn’t part of the Thai motorist’s vocabulary. Thais will attempt to pass anyone, anytime, anywhere, regardless of whether
it is prudent to do so. Apparently the word prudent is also unknown to Somchai and all his cousins as well. The standard Thai operating procedure is to simply fling your vehicle into the opposite lane and hope your karma account is topped
off. As for oncoming traffic…..well they’d best get the hell out of the way, ‘cause you ain’t going to. Does the fact that it’s raining so hard that you can barely see where you are going make the slightest
difference in the way a Thais drive? Surely you jest? By the time this particular trip was over, I was white-knuckled and ready for a stiff drink.

Among the people who never seem to slow down in the train are bus drivers. A number of times I’ve taken the night bus down to Bangkok in the rain. The fact that my bus has never been in an accident is obviously a testament that my karma account has a healthy surplus!

With heavy rains comes the possibility of flooding. The north of Thailand seems particularly prone to annual foods. One reason I suppose is that an enormous amount of rain water falling on the mountains eventually drains into the rivers, which often swell
and overflow their banks into towns and villages downstream. I vividly remember a major flood we had in Lampang five years ago. The Wang River, which usually is a slow, placid waterway, became a monstrous torrent rushing through the center of
the city. Huge areas along the river front were meters underwater. The Thais, if nothing else are an enterprising bunch. A veritable carnival sprang up at a strategic vantage point, where people could gawk at Mother Nature on a rampage. My wife
and I were among the throng, staring with awe at the torrent. Watching a spectacle of this magnitude was hungry work and the dozens of food vendors who had quickly set up shop did a booming business. The only thing missing were balloons and a
sage full of musicians…..and if things had gone on long enough, they might have appeared! Welcome to Thailand! You do have to love this place!

wonderland clinic

I think if I lived in Bangkok I would hate the rainy season. The few times I’ve been there during a downpour were not all that much fun. Negotiating uneven and often barely functional Bangkok sidewalks can be trying at any time. Throw in a sudden
deluge and things can extremely dicey. Oh, and let’s not forget cars, especially taxis, running through puddles, drenching you and all other pedestrians to the bone. <And traffic becomes an absolute nightmare!Stick>

Speaking of getting drenched, I should mention my school’s antiquated drainage system. After a good old fashion downpour, is often 6-8 inches of water covering the sidewalks and parking lots. Faced with a small lake, to wade through to get to my
truck, I used to take off my sandals, roll up my trousers, and slosh my way along. Once, faced with one of these aquatic strolls, I had what thought of as a brilliant idea. I fished around (no pun intended) in one of my drawers and found a pair
of yellow Big C bags. With the help of a roll of masking tape, I fashioned a pair of “waders”. They worked, although I needed to walk slowly to avoid slipping and taking a plunge into the dark waters of the parking lot. Functionality
aside, they looked rather silly. I certainly received more than a few incredulous stares and loud guffaws. The solution was to pick up a pair of rubber boots, which I keep tucked by the side of my desk.

I must admit that I enjoy the sound of falling rain; especially a real storm…..provided I’m nice and toasty dry. I often sit out on my front porch, which is well covered, while water pours down and the wind blows. It’s a good thing that
I installed a good gutter system. Without it, the area around my home would become a muddy quagmire.

There are a number of things that I do not like about a major storm. My satellite reception often craps out, not that I watch the tube all that much. I often lose electricity. For someone who needs his air conditioning to sleep, that is bad news! I keep a good supply of candles and flashlights on hand, so darkness is not that big a deal. During a really big blow, there is a danger of tiles being blown of the shoddily built house next door to me. This has happened a few times.
Luckily none have crashed through a window.

Then of course are the hoards of mosquitoes that love the rainy season almost as much as they love my sweet, sweet blood….almost! I am thinking of writing something about my ongoing battle against the abundant insect life here in Thailand,
so I won’t say more about this for now.

One definite benefit off all this rain is that I haven’t needed to water the lawn. My fruit trees have a major growth spurt during this time, which is amazing. The growing season is 365 days a year in Thailand, but the rain speeds everything up
dramatically. I do a light of fertilizing during this time of year because the nutrients get well absorbed. My nine coconut trees are all producing fruit, which will be a subject for another submission down the line.

As I write this, the sky which started of sunny, are clouding over, and the wind is starting to pick up. I expect it to start raining heavily soon. Luckily I have my umbrella and rubber boots handy. Bring on the rain baby. I’ll take all you’ve

Stickman's thoughts:

Nice. For those who are less familiar with the rainy season, in Bangkok at least it is not that bad. I mean, we can experience heavy downpours but they usually only last an hour or two. Afterwards the temperature is a couple of degrees cooler which is always nice.

nana plaza