I blissfully began my stay in the lovely isle of Koh Samui, Thailand by basking in a few hours of perfect sun. But alas, my cheery reverie would shortly be followed by a 3-day stretch of intermittent torrential rains — the kind with thunder claps that make you leap out of bed crying, “Sweet baby Jesus, what WAS that noise?” — broken only by periods of Armageddon-like cloud cover.
A day or so into they fray, mostly joking, I tweeted, “I can’t be entirely sure, as tropical storms aren’t my forte, but I strongly suspect I’m currently dealing with a monsoon.” Ha. Ha. Ayaz reminded me that it’s no longer monsoon season. I even researched the topic, and decided, nope, couldn’t be – it’s the wrong month.
Lo and behold, while reading the (slightly damp) Bangkok Post newspaper at breakfast, we checked the weather. Surprise! A monsoon wind from China is bringing us this weather madness.
But really, you might ask, who cares? As most of my friends and family on the East Coast are dealing with sub-zero temperatures, endless snow and ice, numb toes, and all the other good stuff winter has thus far brought, I’m guessing anyone would read my tales of tropical rain with a, “Oh, bully for you and your warm, damp weather!” reaction. If they were from Philly, I’d of course expect that sentiment to also be peppered with some foul language.
So, why then, bring up my current state of island dampness? Because I think I’m really becoming pro at personal monsoon entertainment. In case you’ve ever worried to yourself, “Self, how will you survive if trapped on an island in the Gulf of Thailand during an unseasonable monsoon?” – worry no more. I’ve got a few ideas.
- Day Drink. This is obviously the immediate reaction for the traveler first dealing with a storm. Good grief, the bars on this island are littered with people having no clue what to do with themselves, hoping the rain will pass, and enjoying a little buzz until the sun comes back. I totally respect this. I’ve indulged in a Cheng or 2, myself. But this only really works in the storm’s early stages. After a day or so, you’ll wind up looking like the poor saps I spied at “Dicko’s Sports Bar” (no, I didn’t make that up) and you’ll have to move on to other ways to entertain yourself.
- Become acquainted with SE Asia’s pop icons. This is easy to accomplish by merely tuning in to Asia’s “V” network of music videos. Do this carefully, however, as you might get stuck with lines like, “Poppin bottles in the ice, like a blizzard; When we drink we do it right gettin slizzard” trapped in your head, on loop until insanity looms. Should this occur, refer back to Step 1.
- Set up camp at a restaurant or venue with prime people-watching ability. Play the game “Girlfriend for real?” or “Girlfriend for hire?” Self-explanatory.
- Photograph nice-smelling plants on your resort property. At this point you might be sinking into tropical depression yourself, but no fears. I’ve never been one to be taken by up-close shots of flora, heck, I don’t even like Georgia O’Keefe paintings, but I totally know that some folks get their kicks off zoom-ins of water drops on petals. Go for it. Find your inner nature photographer.
- Play Bridge with old, British expats. I may not like Bridge, but I do like old, British expats and they gather in droves to play bridge and drink coffee (or maybe they were day drinking?!?), even in the rain. It’s Day 3 of island storm. Why not? I don’t judge!
- Eradicate monster cockroaches in your hotel room. Maybe it’s our proximity to the sea, maybe it’s all the rain, or maybe our room is just infested with massive cockroaches – like, the kind that inspire horror movies. No matter. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, why not exterminate them? Better yet, have someone else fight the good fight for you. I’ve been equal parts traumatized and entertained to hear the thumping noises of Ayaz putting his all behind the roach that wouldn’t, ahem, “leave.”
- Take that poorly executed painting you’ve been staring at on the wall in your bungalow and turn it into a self-executed Rorschach Test. What DO those bulging clouds look like? Are they just clouds or are they a floating man with 3 wings and a Yankees cap on his head? Save this one for your final day of antsy-ness. The fun goes on and on. And, if all else fails:
- Write a blog post.