And now for a different topic: the weather.
By the time you read this, the second storm of the year has passed through Vietnam. More storms are expected, so it’s time to replace your worn-out umbrella, buy a new raincoat, and urge your landlord to fix that annoying ceiling leak in the hallway.
I find it interesting that Ho Chi Minh City was unaffected by the storm, while Hoi An continues to enjoy clear, blue skies. It’s also curious that the north experiences severe storms even though it’s still the middle of the year weather-wise.
Personally, I don’t mind the heat as I grew up in Queensland and lived in Malaysia as a child. I remember walking home in Kuala Lumpur, watching the clouds grow higher and higher, until the sky turned dark and a thunderstorm unleashed heavy raindrops around me.
There’s something exciting about a big storm, as long as you’re under cover with plenty of snacks and drinks to enjoy the show.
However, it can be difficult to predict the weather when it’s not obvious that something is about to happen. When I first moved to Vietnam, I would get alarmed when massive clouds quickly turned daytime into darkness while I was riding my motorbike, threatening to unleash rain before I could find shelter.
These days, both the locals and I wait until the rain begins to bother us before hastily pulling out our raincoats. Sometimes, we misjudge a storm in the distance and assume it will hit us soon, only for it to change direction.
The weather also affects our moods. Do you prefer it to rain while practicing social distancing, or do you hate the fact that the sunny weather tempts you to go to the beach (which is currently banned)? Personally, it depends on the time of day. I find it more frustrating when it rains during sunset, as it’s slightly cooler and breezier. However, even a small breeze in the evening while going around town can lift my spirits. Unfortunately, with many places in Hoi An closed for dining in, I’ll have to settle for food delivery in my small courtyard, accompanied by my two dogs who stare at me relentlessly. At least I get to choose the music at home.
Around this time, expats on social media will begin speculating if it’s raining. There was only one expat whose predictions I trusted, but he’s no longer here, so I rely on my gut feeling and stick my thumb out the window. It might also be a good idea to update your weather app and get rid of any unnecessary apps on your phone. Come to think of it, why doesn’t anyone look up anymore to check the weather?
Of course, everyone has an opinion when it comes to the weather. Some confidently state that it will rain tomorrow, only for nothing to happen, blaming the app they were using. It’s nice that everyone is eager to help and use technical weather terminology, but I’ll stick to looking up.
In the coming months, Hoi An will experience floods, and we’ll have to wait for our clothes to dry in the humidity. It’s amazing how accustomed I’ve become to this. Riding my bike with my feet lifted up near the handlebars in knee-deep water is sort of fun and makes me proud of myself for still being able to lift my feet in a spritely manner at sixty-two. Boasting to drenched tourists who stumble into a café from a sudden downpour, and saying, “This is nothing! Wait until November!” gives me a strange satisfaction.
Despite the various forms of weather in Vietnam, the heat, humidity, dampness, and occasional chilliness in December, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. It’s like the “Goldilocks” factor— not too cold, with a long summer and a short winter. The rain is usually warm, I’m not in a flood-prone area, and I haven’t worn anything heavier than a hoodie for the last fourteen years.
Whether it’s raining or shining, stay strong and safe. Remember to save for a rainy day, stay grounded, and don’t let the weather affect your mood. And no matter what happens, it’s just a passing storm!