Thailand Protests in pictures: 28th November 2013, Hat Yai

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Five for Friday – top tips for the rainy season in Thailand

Heavy Downpour

Usually the rainy season is made up of isolated showers flanked either side by perfectly dry, warm weather but this week the south of Thailand has endured three days of non-stop rain.  The rivers are swollen and if we have one more day of rain it is likely that places will start to flood, and Hat Yai has seen some serious flooding in the past.  Coming from the UK, I am very used to a rainy climate but nothing can prepare you for a monsoon until you are caught in one yourself.  Here are my five top tips for coping with the rainy season in Thailand.

  • Invest in a good rain coat.  Those 7-eleven ponchos may be cheap but you are effectively draping yourself in a flimsy carrier bag that will offer little protection from the oncoming downpours.  Oh, and they flap in the wind as you go along on your motorbike like the Michelin man and it’s super annoying.  And remember to always keep our coat to hand – there’s nothing worse than getting caught in a shower and realizing that your raincoat is sat at home in the dry.
  • Carry a change of clothes with you if you are going anywhere where you will need to look presentable.  I wear an old skirt and a pair of flip flops on the way to school, arriving bedraggled and soaked, only to perform a superman style transformation in the toilet, emerging in a fresh, dry outfit and – most importantly – dry shoes.  Spending 8 hours standing in soggy shoes is not nice.  Trust me.
  • Get to know the drips, leakages and generally any place where water can get in to your home.  If you live in a condominium or lovely flash apartment this may not be a problem, but if you live in a Thai style house like we do, the roof may not be 100% rain proof.  If it’s raining hard enough and in the right direction, we have dripping leaks in every room but the bathroom (which ironically is a wet room anyway).
  • On the subject of the bathroom, again if you live in a Thai style home you may not have hot running water.  Usually this is no problem, with refreshing water to cool you down on a hot Thai afternoon, but in the rainy season during a particularly rainy day the last thing you want is a freezing cold shower.  On days like this I resort to boiling a pot of water on the hob and having a bucket wash.  It’s not ideal but neither is risking hypothermia (OK, slight exaggeration but you know what I mean).
  • Listen to the locals.  If you live in a flood prone area like we do, listen to their predictions on the likelihood of a flood.  They will speak from experience and knowing the land much better than you do.  If they are talking of the risk of flood, go out and stock up on the essentials – water, rice, noodles, bread, candles – Thai people will never say I told you so but do you want to be known as the farang that got stranded at home with nothing but the crusty remnants of the back of your fridge?

What do you do to cope with the rainy season?  Anyone got any secret tips?