How to love rainy season in Saigon

By Connla Stokes   May 22, 2017 | 01:58 pm GMT+7
How to love rainy season in Saigon
The rainy season in Saigon doesn't have to be stressful all the time. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

As long as you are in the right place, and in the right frame of mind, you can enjoy seeing the clouds roll into town.

To love rainy season in Saigon, for starters, you must be well-sheltered, and preferably snug – a rule of thumb: the more happily ensconced you are, the more you will enjoy the sight and sound of the heavens opening.

Not only must you be perfectly content with your surroundings, but nobody can be waiting for you on the other side of town. You must have nowhere to go, no errands to run, no meetings to attend, or people to chase. You should be free to procrastinate.

It would be advantageous to live in an area where the flooding of streets is minimal (not for your sake, but for the guy delivering your pizza). If you are at home, do what you like as you sit out a rainstorm. Fall asleep reading a book. Think of a great opening line to a poem you’ll never write. Strum something with strings. Make the mother of all sandwiches. Send a certain someone a text that makes their day.

There will, of course, be days and times throughout the rainy season where you will have to leave your place of shelter knowing that rain is imminent. It is helpful, therefore, to have a wide view of the skyline so you can watch the clouds roll in, and roll away again (it’s also beneficial to have a friend, who a) has a view of the other side of the city and b) responds quickly to text messages).

Leave the house with plenty of time. Without the use of statistics to support this claim, the most dangerous time to ride a motorbike in Saigon is undoubtedly the 10-minute period before a rainstorm; and as soon as the rain comes down, somehow a city with an overabundance of taxis doesn’t have enough.

Bring a bag. In that bag, pack all of your preferred tools for whiling away time: a book or a magazine; a notepad or sketchbook and pens; and most importantly, rechargers for your smartphone, tablet and/or laptop.

To maintain a fondness for rainy season for the duration of rainy season, you must get a kick out of avoiding downpours. Consider it a sport. Derive pleasure from never being caught in the rain. Invest in a quality raincoat. Brag about having never used it. The closer you come to narrowly avoiding a cloudburst, the more pleasure you will feel. To step inside the door of your favorite café only to hear the day’s first pelts of rain on the windowpane is the sweetest of victories (the cherry on top is walking into said café to see the face of your latest crush smiling back at you).

Just as a carefully considered wine can elevate the taste of a certain dish, a well-chosen soundtrack can heighten the satisfaction of being indoors in a rainstorm. Away from your home, you are at the mercy of the others. In a café or bar, all you can hope for is an appropriately moody or melancholy melody. If needs must, introduce the staff to the music of Chet Baker and Ella Fitzgerald and tell them to save it for a rainy day. They can thank you later.

Should you be in a café alone, it’s still nice to have a sense of company. A smattering of other customers, preferably ones who seem both intriguing and/or attractive to you. They are strangers, but for the duration of a deluge, you will sit together, staring out the window, contemplating and daydreaming as one like fellow travelers on a train hurtling into a familiar heartland. Conversation is optional. Should one occur it will be cordial, if not pleasant, and all participants will instinctively know when it has run its course.

But best of all, when the rain comes, wherever you are, is to find yourself face to face with someone you can’t get enough of: a lover, or someone you want to be your lover; a great conversationalist, a witty and erudite person; someone who makes you belly laugh and/ or see typical things in a new way; or just someone who you want to gaze at admiringly. “I hope it rains all day,” you might think, or be bold enough to say, if they threaten to sidle away, “then you’d have to stay…”

The Saigonese have a dated expression, “the sun shines in the morning, the rain falls in the afternoon”; expats of a certain vintage also claim to remember a time when it rained for 35 minutes every day at precisely 2:30 in the afternoon during rainy season. Now the rains come and go when they please. They arrive earlier in the year, and linger for longer, too. These new erratic weather patterns only make people who dislike rainy season even more woebegone at the sight of each and every rainstorm. Their greatest fear is that one of these years there will come a rainy season that never ends.

But should you find yourself surrounded by people who complain about rain in rainy season (“raining again?”, “Mua roi, huhu…”), say nothing.

Instead, write a post on Facebook: “If it weren’t for all the damage to local businesses and infrastructure, flooding of streets, threat of water-borne diseases, and widespread misery, I’d be more comfortable telling people that I love rainy season.” Delete the post and decide to write this article instead. Try to make it sound romantic, sentimental. Try to hide the fact that deep down you feel pretty heartless telling other people how to love rainy season. Realize that in this city of however-many-millions it is the ultimate privilege to be so lucky.