HCMC Dining Guide

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rain, rain, go away

Complaining about the wet season in Saigon can be rather old hat at times, but these past few weeks have been particularly nasty. It is amazing how much the weather dictates your life when your main mode of transportation (a motorbike) leaves you completely exposed to the elements.

I work from 9-1, Monday through Friday, and most days I intend to do something constructive in the afternoon when I finish, but that has been impossible lately. Mornings are usually dry, but by 11am on some days it gets so dark outside that I have turn the lights in my room on. More often than not, by 12:30 or 1, right when I start getting ready to go somewhere, the floodgates open, so I end up just reading on my Kindle or re-watching old seasons of 'How I Met Your Mother' or napping.

And this isn't like precipitation in the U.S., where you usually have a gradual buildup from light drizzle to steady rain. Here, it is not raining one minute, and then the next a torrential downpour begins and the streets start flooding immediately. The only time I've seen rain so powerful is during tropical storms and hurricanes in New Orleans.

This year's wet season has an added element that I don't remember experiencing last year: wind. Last week a couple of storms blew through with absolutely wicked gusts, rendering ponchos utterly useless and making driving almost impossible. I was reminded of a quote from 'Forrest Gump': "We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin' rain...and big ol' fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath." That describes perfectly what it is like during an afternoon storm: as you drive along the raindrops blast your eyes, and even if you have a poncho on your neck, arms, and legs will still get soaked.

Though such storms are most common between 1pm and 5pm, they can actually happen any time. Last Friday I went to a movie out in District 7, a 20 minute drive. I left my house around 7pm, and as soon as I was a block away from home the skies opened up, and within minutes there was standing water on the roadway. My poncho did nothing to keep my shoes from filling with water, and somehow a stream flowed down the front of my shirt. The wind was whipping rain in from every direction, and as cars passed they shot walls of water over me. I had to sit through a two-hour movie (the highly-recommended Intouchables, a French film) in a theater with frigid air-conditioning in dripping wet socks and pants.

I've been wanting to go out and get some pictures for a few posts I have in mind, but when practically every afternoon looks like this:

...I don't feel like taking my camera anywhere. In fact I don't feel like taking myself anywhere. This weather has also completely trashed my exercise routine. I could get up super early and fit in a bike ride before I start work, but I'm far too lazy to get up at dawn, or anywhere near it. Afternoons are a washout, and once the sun sets it's too dangerous. The only upside is that the overcast keeps the days cooler, and when it rains at night and you drive around within an hour of it finishing it can actually feel a little cold out. (Cold being relative here.)

After enduring a couple more months of this I'll be more than ready for the return of the sun though. Bring on the heat!


  1. Been following your blog for a while man, love it. I'm moving to HCMC next week and dreading this weather. I'm from Ireland so used to rain but this sounds on another level. Should be interesting...

  2. Thanks, glad you like it! The rain can be dealt with, it's just not pleasant. Hopefully the worst of it will pass in the next couple of weeks.