DAY 11 - Tuesday 7th July 2009 - Rotten Rain

Nick had expressed his astonishment at the baffling lack of precipitation since my arrival: despite visiting Phuket in the middle of its tropical rainy season. Instead, I had been treated to cloudy yet drizzle-free skies and, with a dash of optimism and a droplet of luck, some occasional sunlight.

Today this changed.

In the early hours of the morning, the storms returned. With a vengeance.

The sky filled with inky-black clouds and, gradually, the thunder began its drumroll, followed by lightning spotlight. Then the rains arrived. It was sudden, as though a bucket of water had been tipped over the edge of the heavens onto unsuspecting citizens below.

Standing on the covered balcony, I gaped in amazement at the ensuing outburst. It was as though nature had developed an inconsolable fury, and had decided to throw up everything at her disposal. Each thunderclap was a cannon blast. Every fork of lightning was a magnesium detonation.

I smugly crept back indoors, sparing a brief thought for the poor souls battling the elements outdoors. My complacency was vanquished instantly when Nick highlighted the need to walk into Patong to resolve urgent business. The day before, we had booked a day of elephant trekking from a local hotel (which acts as a host for various businesses) from 2pm and onwards, but the kindly lady had assured us of the possibility of exchanging the date for us if circumstances changed. With the rain clouds, the circumstances had certainly changed.

Thus, 30 minutes later, I found myself shuffling down the road from the apartment in inadequate footwear, namely my usually dependable flip-flops, and clutching a forlorn and battered umbrella. Nick had, sensibly, brought a waterproof coat, while I had thought to pack no such thing.

It was chaos.

It began almost instantly. While Nick tramped onwards in sturdy trainers, head bowed against the pouring rain, I was frenetically weaving around mud, leaping over puddles and whimpering constantly as the wind attempted to tug my umbrella out of my hands. I often cried out as my footwear caused me to slip and trip frequently on the smoother pavements, and I miserably slowed my progress while still attempting to keep up with Nick, who was faced with no such difficulties.

I was not amused.

When we reached the main road, we both paused in shock. The entire boulevard had been swamped. The concrete was invisible, swallowed up by a rapid, murky-brown river. Motorbikes, tuk tuks, cars and lorries, undeterred, ploughed on through the newly-formed canal, causing torrents of water to fly through the air, covering hapless pedestrians and slow-witted tourists in a waterfall of coffee-coloured liquid.

Nick didn't mind.

We picked our way through a market stall, therefore avoiding the water, and finally reached another main road which would take us to the hotel. I moaned when we both realised that there was no way down without resorting to walking through the horrid stream, formerly a proper street. Nick relented and peeled off his shoes and socks before plunging into the water, ignoring my whiny protestations. I dashed through a restaurant but halted on an outdoor step, my path finally blocked. I glumly watched Nick wade away but satisfied myself with snapping photos of the chaos.

Nick dares to wade.

Nick returned, having successfully rebooked the trekking for the next day. I rushed back through the restaurant, although my luck soon ran out: in order to reach the dive centre, where we had decided to spend the rest of the morning, I would finally have to paddle across an equally atrociously soaked road. I did so, with much eye-scrunching and squealing, while Nick, laughing uproariously, captured the moment on his camera.

Order of succession...

Two hours later, after limited blog process, we emerged into the daylight and blinked in surprise. There was no sign of the road-rivers. As quickly as they had appeared, they had drained away, leaving only a few puddles and patches of mud. Folding away my umbrella and shaking my head at the volatility of the Thai weather, I followed Nick back towards the centre, where we argued over lunch.

Although I was glad I had experienced the full extent of the Phuket rainstorms, I hoped most strongly that the worst had passed and that the sun could be tempted out once again. I am still haunted after realising that the water...was brown for a very specific and unsavoury reason.

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