Despite the sun and heat today, the rainy season in Laos has begun. During the previous three weeks or so, swift-moving thunderstorms brought some rain showers, frequently quite heavy, but they didn’t linger. They also had some hellacious thunder and lightning. I was alone at The Farm one night when a simultaneous sizzle, blinding flash and deafening crack shattered the night. The lightning must have been extremely close, needless to say. Lucky, the family dog, was already in the house and he came whimpering over to me. I think he was whimpering. It might have been me. The past three days, however, rainy weather has settled in, bringing a steady drizzle for a large parts of the day and night.
I’d like to say that I’ve been an innocent bystander, or watcher, of these showers, but I had some direct involvement with them this past Saturday. Since I have a 9 a.m. class that day, I left for the college on my motorbike at 6:30 to make the 25 kilometer ride. I don’t usually leave that early, but it was raining, so I wanted to leave myself plenty of time to ride cautiously. At The Farm, there was only a slight sprinkle, so it didn’t seem like it would be a terrible ride, though I knew I was going to get wet. Unfortunately, just outside of Vientiane it began to pour. By the time I got to the school, I was drenched. My clothes were literally dripping wet. I keep a good set of “teacher clothes” at my desk, so the first thing I did was change out of the wet clothes. I hung them on my motorbike handlebars, down in the covered parking lot. It was a bit of fun, ridin’ in the rain (Gene Kelley comes to mind), but I don’t want to do it too often.
I’ll have to invest in some rain wear, since the worst part of rainy season is ahead of us. According to one website, June and July get about 10-11 inches of rain each month, and August and September get 12-13 inches. So, I’ve definitely got some rainy bike riding in my future.
In the near future, though, I won’t be riding the bike too much. The present Vientiane College term finishes this Saturday, and I don’t start teaching again until July 10th. (Shades of the Korean university vacation time!) In the meantime, I might take a trip up to Vang Vieng for a few days, or, preferably, down to Pakse to see the Chutes de Khone, the Khone Waterfall on the Mekong River, the widest waterfall in the world.
I got nailed again today by a torrential downpour on my way to work around noon. The first shower drenched me just as I was passing by the new U.S. Embassy building construction site, about 5 kilometers outside of Vientiane. It was coming down so heavy that I had to pull over and duck under an awning until it passed. After the rain finished, I resumed my journey, only to catch up with the rain a few kilometers down the road. Again I sought shelter. This happened to me a third time when I got into the city. I just kept catching up with the slow moving storm. I finally made it to the school and changed out of my wet clothes into my teacher clothes. It’s supposed to rain again tonight around the time that I ride back to The Farm. If it’s coming down too heavily, I’ll find a cheap guesthouse to spend the night.