The rain, the rain, the rain has come to Saigon and it’s a hoot.
It seems the rains may have come early this year. I’m told they don’t normally arrive until April or so yet here they are in all their resplendent, thunderous glory. Earlier this week I paused while walking down the corridor as I heard noisier than normal shrieks of delight from some of our primary kids. I looked out the window to the field below to see these kids running and laughing giddily as the rain began to fall. Their delight was palpable and I laughed to see them having so much fun out in the rain.
A few days later I stood on my balcony and watched as the winds caught errant rain drops and took them for a whirlwind dance through the sky, completely defiant of gravity, before finally allowing them to continue their descent to the ground. Seconds before the dance of the raindrops I had watched in awe as the sky darkened and rain clouds raced across the sky to turn the sun filled day, into a dimly lit cavern, ready to explode in a shower of water.
Today I sit at a coffee shop on Saigon’s famed Le Loi street. My coffee is milky, hot and strong. On my iPhone Eddie Vedder provides a soundtrack to today’s episode of backpackingteacher. I sit outside, yet undercover. I’m close enough to the rain to feel the occasional sprinkle yet not close enough that I have to move. The skies crackle with thunder and the air is strong and wet and smells of rain. The water pours down but, unperturbed the locals on bikes continue to drive by. Only now they’ve all donned raincoats which generally cover them, their handlebars, and the passenger at the back who, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they’re on the back of a rickety vehicle travelling at high speed amongst many other such similar vehicles, rearrange their positions constantly to best avoid getting wet.
The streets begin to look like rivers and the cars and bikes create wakes like speedboats and ocean liners. The the approach of bike riders to riding the riverroad varies. Some ride slowly, legs held high above the water as if delivering a baby, other riders plough through at full speed creating wakes as tall as their bikes. A third subset walk their bikes through as the water laps at their shins and knees.
And it continues to rain with unrelenting ferocity. The rain lasts over two hours. I have things to do but I don’t mind the rain enforced layover in this coffeeshop. A friend calls and laughs as she recounts getting caught up in the downpour and getting absolutely soaked. The air is beginning to cool considerably and it smells sweet and fresh. I almost feel like I want to run out into the rain laughing giddily like the kids at school.
The flooding streets (see video) look like such disorganised, chaotic fun I decide to ride home in the rain. I drive out the carpark contemplating whether I’ll be a legs akimbo, giving birth driver or, water be damned, I can make waves driver. I don’t have time to make the decision because as I exit the carpark into knee high water my bike stalls and I’m forced to get off and push it through the river back into the carpark. So much for riding home in the rain. Instead I’m stuck in a carpark waiting for a mechanic to effect repairs. Ah well, not to worry, it’ll probably be raining again tomorrow.