As a Brit I am well used to talking about the weather, it has been a national obsession for time immemorial. In Britain they complain if it snows in winter and if it gets hot in summer. In can be incredibly infuriating at times. Trains cancelled because leaves fall on the tracks in the Autumn, planes stranded at airports for a slight mist and traffic chaos caused by two inches of snow. The moaners really need to spend a bit of time in Southeast Asia.
The residents of most Southeast Asian countries really do know what extreme weather is. I arrived back from a recent trip to Europe to sweltering heat of above 40ºC. It has been extremely hot for the two weeks since I got back and with the humidity it feels hotter. Of course at this time of year, great heat is often the signal for great storms, and so it has proved this year. Bangkok was rocked by enormous thunder storms last week and Hanoi has been the victim of one of the biggest storms in recent memory.
Bangkok’s storms provided spectacular images of lightning that would shut the entire country down in the UK. Whilst in Hanoi more than 1,000 trees were uprooted, sadly resulting in two deaths. The images of houses having been lifted out of their foundations by tree roots were dramatic to say the least.
Yet, here there is a silent acceptance and a case of just “getting on with it” that always seems to prevail. Many vehicles were smashed and destroyed in the Hanoi storm. A vehicle to these people often represents all they own. Yet the same stoic resilience comes to the surface. These are a tough people, and they have my complete admiration. When the rains do come, they often result in flash floods that are both dramatic and dangerous. Seeing the locals riding through a foot or more of fast moving water scares the hell out of me.
I suppose it is simply a case of what one is used to. However, I do feel that populations in the West really need to count their blessings sometimes. In Europe in particular, people rarely get to see truly dramatic weather. In Southeast Asia it is an annual fact.