I have been a regular visitor to Samui over the last ten years, before relocating here in September. None of these visits coincided with the rainy season. Maybe a little more research was required before moving to what could earlier this month have been described as the ‘Venice of Asia’.
Perhaps I should have seen the warning signs of things to come, in September already. The locals have a six sense as to when rain is imminent. I recall on several occasions, lying at the resort pool, in the blazing sun, sipping an ice cold coconut, when the staff would rush out to pack away the sun bed cushions. With not a cloud in the sky, I would wonder what the urgency was, only to be drenched by a downpour minutes later. Thunder, like a drum-roll and lightening like stage lights, joined the large warm droplets for dramatic effect, as if putting on a show. I remember not being bothered by the rain back in September and early October, as these downpours would disappear as quickly as they arrived. Restaurants would wipe down tables and chairs, customers would come back outside, and business would go on as usual as the sun dispersed the last of the rain clouds. What was all the fuss about tropical rain I wondered? Well I was soon to find out.
On 2 November, I received a sms from the very efficient office of the International School of Samui, asking parents to please collect their children as soon as possible due to the floods. I had been in my villa all day so was completely unaware of the drama unfolding along the Ring Road. Grabbing my umbrella (why did I bother) I drove from Maenam towards the school. Although driving was hard, with the windscreen wipers working overtime, I still thought the urgent sms was a little dramatic. I soon changed my mind and joined in the panic.
Nearing Bophut, just before the Go Kart track, the ‘puddle’ in the road covered my wheels. I ploughed through in a lower gear battling along with the other vehicles. A few hundred metres further, the water level was above my exhaust, and over the front grill of the car, which was now straining and smoking and threatening to die on me. There was no way I could turn around and I needed to get to the school. A Singha beer truck came towards me, pushing a wall of water resembling a tsunami, and brown muddy water completely covered the windscreen. The car protested, giving a final splutter and cough as I just managed to encourage it up an embankment on to dry ground.
Looking like two drowned rats, my mother and I were now stranded on this high parking lot. A kind friend, who had managed to get to the school to fetch their child, took my daughter home with them. There were no songthaews running and very few cars were making it through now. Those that could were on their own mission, and not interested in two sorry looking souls standing on the side of the road. We contemplated walking back to Maenam, but the water was waist deep in parts, and debris was floating past. This would have been too dangerous with broken drainage grates underfoot.
Although the floods are a serious matter, I do try to see some humour in every situation; it is a good stress reliever and tension breaker. I do not mean to be insensitive to those that suffered due to the floods by injury or damage to property. I just find humour in my own situations. I laugh when I picture my mother, hair glued to her face, hands pushed together, begging a driver of a high pickup truck to let us climb on the back as he was heading to Maenam. Thank you stranger for stopping, karma will reward you later for your kindness. I chuckle as I recall a little white dog chasing the ‘waves’ in the road, as a dog would do at the seaside. The waves in the road were actually bigger than on the beach.
So now I have learnt to live with the rain, knowing that it is followed by a hot, dry season, when I will take shelter in the shops not from the rain, but enjoying their air-conditioning, a relief from the heat once again. I do look forward to those days. Be careful what you wish for. I remember wishing for rain.