Tag Archives: rain

Walking in the Rain

On Sunday Danny and I decided we would walk the couple of kilometers to the giant Lotte Center to check it out. It is the second tallest building in Hanoi, but we were mostly interested in the basement, where the Lotte Mart is. Not because we were already craving Korean goodies, mind you, but just to check out a) what cat food they had and b) if they had Command Strips.

They had both, but we are really watching our money, so we walked away without purchasing anything. We also didn’t check out the observation deck, but once we are both working regularly I think we will.

We left Lotte and walked to nearby Pawsome Pet Store. Our little fuzzies will be here soon, and we needed to source out where we could get some decent food and other cat necessities. We found Pawsome, looked around, made some notes, and decided we should probably check out more than one place.

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Our cats (Bug and Fatler), arriving soon.

As we walked out of the shop, it was started to spit a little rain. Now, both Dan and I know how much rain can come and how quickly it can come (you learn this fast in Hanoi), but we thought we’d take a risk as the next pet store wasn’t too far away.

It may not have been far, but we didn’t quite make it before it really started raining hard. So hard that we took shelter in a tiny hole-in-the-wall bánh mì place that invited us to come in. They didn’t expect us to order anything, so we did. Had a sausage-style bánh mì and a Coke each, and sat waiting for the rain to abate. It didn’t quite stop, but once it slowed enough that we thought it might, we headed on. We were only a few hundred meters to the next shop.

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The next pet store was also alright – it had some things that the first didn’t and we noted a few more things down. We actually bought a cat brush there, and as we were trying to transact, all the power in the shop went out. Fortunately, it seemed isolated, for as we walked out of the store, the lights seemed to be on everywhere else.

Because of the continued rain, we figured our chances of getting a Grab taxi were going to be low and the fares high, so we walked on. We were only about 40 minutes walking from home, and the rain had really slowed. Besides, there was one more pet shop we wanted to check out along the way.

We never did go to that other shop. We weren’t even half-way home when the rain began in earnest. We huddled against a wedding dress shop under the woefully inadequate shelter of the awning and tried to wait out the rain.

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20% chance? LIES.

After waiting for about 10 minutes, I pushed Dan to start walking. He didn’t want to because of how heavily it was raining, but I couldn’t see it getting any lighter and we were only about 25 minutes from home at this point. He asked to wait another 10 minutes, which we did. During that time, I filmed a bit of the rain. I didn’t capture the amazing lightning strike and thunder that hit just as I stopped the video, nor did I get pictures of just how flooded the street got. There were motorbikes going by on which riders had their feet submersed in water.

That’s when we decided it wasn’t worth waiting – the rain wasn’t letting up and the street we were standing beside was quickly overflowing onto the sidewalks. As soon as we stepped out from under the awning, it was like stepping fully-clothed into a shower. Within seconds we were drenched through to the skin. Thank goodness I had the plastic bag from the pet shop – we put our phones and wallets in it and slogged on.

We made a left toward the lake, which had all but disappeared in the rain that was curtaining down. We followed the lake home, so wet that it wasn’t possible to get more wet. Thank goodness the rain was warm, and at least the weather meant that there wasn’t a lot of traffic to deal with.

Right before home, we had to go through an extremely flooded portion of Võng Thị Street, unavoidable as it was right where our lane meets Võng Thị. Normally, I wouldn’t mind walking through the rainwater, even though it was about knee-deep. Dan had different issues, as although I was in flip-flops, he was in shoes and socks, and definitely uninterested in walking them through this giant puddle, even though they were already soaked through.

I was a wee bit squeamish about the entire wading ordeal because that street is mostly a market most days – including butchers and other stalls. The flooded corner was usually where all the trash from the neighbourhood and market was piled. Had it been picked up before the rain or not? Was it around in that puddle somewhere? Had it rained long enough to wash away the fecal matter from the ducks, chickens, dogs, cats, geese, and flipping horse that we sometimes saw along that road? How about the blood and other offal from the animals that were slaughtered? Or was all that, along with the garbage, mixing together in this giant flood-puddle to make some sort of disease-riddled soup?

::SIDE NOTE::

No, really. A horse. Tied up beside the butcher’s table. Horse. I don’t even want to know.

::END SIDE NOTE::

With no other choice, we waded in. Taking small cautious steps as the road underneath in that part of the street is, understandably, none too smooth. We made it through with no stubbed toes or ankles twisted in potholes, and then it was two minutes to home.

Once inside, we went directly to the shower to take off our wet clothes. I was able to wring rainwater out of my underpants. We were extra careful when washing our feet and legs to ensure we got all the Võng Thị puddle soup off.

Even though it would have been misery to walk through if we had to be at work or some other place, it was kind of fun walking through rain so heavy that we could hardly see. I laughed a lot, and even Dan admitted later that it had been an interesting experience. Having said that, the next time it starts to rain, I’m calling a cab.

 

Ridin’ in the Rain

I’m sure I made it clear in my post about renting a bike in Hanoi that I do NOT have much experience on a motorbike. Yet here I am, bombing around a city with insane traffic.

In spite of the traffic, I really enjoy getting around on a motorbike. It is pretty freeing, especially when the main traffic laws you must follow are 1) not driving on the sidewalk (which people still do) and 2) not going the wrong way up a street (which people still do). Other than that (and not having a bazillion people on the bike… which people still do), there isn’t much to worry about. Even the traffic lights and signs seem to be more like suggestions than laws. So I don’t have to worry about breaking laws when I am riding.

I do have a zillion other things to worry about, though.

When I rented the bike, Danny (at the shop) laughed when I said that I’ve never been so spatially aware in my life since coming to Hanoi, even when walking. He laughed because he said the opposite is generally true of the Vietnamese. But so far I haven’t had my personal bike-space invaded too badly.

Although I thought I could handle my lightweight little automatic Yamaha, even in the traffic, I still worried at first about riding in the rain. Not just because of the danger of water on the road, but also because of the reduced visibility. But I was enjoying it, especially because when I got to go a little faster (30km… whoo!!) it felt like I was wearing a cape instead of a flowery unflattering rain poncho. BATGIRL ON A BIKE. So I was enjoying it.

UNTIL TODAY.

There is rain, and then there is RAIN. You know how people say, “God is in the rain”? Well, I’m here to tell you that if that is true, God freaking loves Hanoi. A lot. Especially today.

I woke up and it was POURING rain. Buckets and buckets of rain. And I could hear thunder. Unfortunately I had a meeting at 8am, so I was going to have to go out in it. I put on all my kit and started out.

Despite the raincoat, I was already getting damp just trying to wheel the bike out of our door yard. I got it out, locked the gate, and jumped on the bike. Which then would not start. And then it did, but as soon as I gave it some gas, it would stall.

Remember I know nothing about bikes. But I tried a few more times and it finally decided to catch and go. I rode down our wee lane to the main street… which was completely flooded. I mean, when I put my foot down to navigate the corner slowly, my foot and leg disappeared to more than halfway up my calf. That was the worst flooding I came across, but there were huge, scary puddles everywhere.

My visibility was poor. My eyes were full of rain (as was my mouth half the time). There was a good litre of water pooled in between my arms on the raincoat. Water was coming up from underneath somewhere and I was soaked through.

And then the lightning and thunder caught up to me.

That was pretty terrifying, actually. The thunder would sound simultaneously with the lightning flashes overhead. It was so loud that I could barely hear all the honking horns that are perpetually sounding in Hanoi.

In the end, I made it to my appointment, just two minutes late. I was the first there though, so I suppose everyone had a struggle with the rain today. Hopefully the next ride will be a lot drier.

PS: I am adding a “rain” tag to my WordPress tags. I have a feeling it’s going to come up a lot over the next few months in Vietnam!