Monday, April 13, 2009

Snow Day HCMC Style, My Journey to School



















I woke up to The Rain of my Lifetime. Seattle rain does not even count any more after what I woke up to this morning.

I had heard legends about flash floods in this city - how the drainage system is no good and how, at times, the water can reach two, maybe three feet if a heavy rain lasts longer than an hour. Turns out that this legend is completely true.

I open the castle gate to water water water and no market. Fortuately, neighbor Henry sees my bewildered expression and tells me to get on the back of his wife's motorbike and she will drive me out to the main street to meet Nam - she is taking her daughter to school in that direction. I grab my flip flops, roll up my pants, and away we ride. This saves me from having to slosh through the alleys in knee deep water.

Nam is waiting and he looks worried. He indicates that it could take up to an hour to get to school, and he's right. Motorbikes are stalled everywhere - Nam's bike even stalls once. But he is a pro at negotiating our way. When we get to the intersection before the school, the jam is horrible.

I tell Nam I'll just walk the next three blocks because it's obvious we aren't going anywhere, and I'm a little surprised that he allows me to do this. So I roll my pants further up my thigh and trudge through black, filthy water. I lose my flip flops twice and must chase them down river.

Half the kids are late for school: the ones who ride in cars are up to two hours late, but the motorbike kids are fine. One kid arrives on time from a car, and I ask him how he did it. "Our driver is a professional," he tells me.

I think what I can assume from this morning is that the rainy season is here, and that is has arrived with a vengeance.
But you know what? It was a pretty fun morning.

My sister-in-law Kristi is a city planner. Kristi, I think this city needs you. You aren't busy with anything in particular these days, are you?




12 comments:

Mungo said...

HOLY SMOKES!! That's incredible... I remember when I first moved to California to the Inland Empire area, it didn't rain for the first year-and-a-half. Then, when it did, it rained a few hours straight, and the streets were flooding! (nothing like what you're experiencing, of course...) And, it wasn't even REAL rain - just poor drainage, since it rarely does rain there...

Time to trade in one of your hammocks for a canoe!

Angie said...

Wow, Marj. Great pictures! So is that flooding a normal thing every year during the rainy season? It rained here nearly all day yesterday (we did our egg hunts inside,) but we sure didn't have to wade through knee deep water.
We are thinking about your Christmas idea... I like it!

Amy T. said...

What an exciting story, morning. And, I'm amazed that the streets still looked so cheery. My first thought was: now I understand the plastic chairs! [may I? you are to plastic chairs as Holden is to?]

On final thought: I have a feeling this phrase may come back at you, "But you know what? It was a pretty fun morning."

marjie said...

Mungo, you lived in a place called The Inland Empire? Was that when you lived in Star Trek land?

Ang, Yes, I hear that this could be the first of many flash floods this season. Funny that we didn't experience any in the fall.

The Christmas Idea is pretty good, I must say!

Amy, yes, it was a bit cheery. Vietnamese people just deal with whatever is before them, no big deal.

Michelle said...

WOW, that rain is amazing! It rained one time while I was there and I thought it was bad but nothing compared to your pictures. Is it still really hot and now wet too or does it cool down at least a little?
Stay above the water line okay?

Brian Bowker said...

Wow. I'll take NW snow and ice any day!

But on the bright side, now you don't need to go to Venice.

marjie said...

Michelle, the good thing about the rain is that it cools everything down considerably. The week that Pam was here was HOT, so was the week with Sue. They both had to endure power outages, too!

You were a little bit lucky...

Already been to Venice, Brian. But you're right, my neighborhood after a heavy rain is much more cool than Venice.

Kristi said...

When Bellingham had that kind of flooding in December, parts of the city were closed down for days! And, that's with a surface and stormwater utility system in place! Wow.

My suggestion is for you to get tall, rubber boots. Maybe you can get them custom-made?

Mungo said...

I would maybe say Star WARS Land rather than Star TREK Land, with a name like the Inland Empire, but I still understand your joke... Ar-ar.

Yes, it was the Inland Empire, and the town was Rancho Cucamonga. Darth Vader lived next door... Ar-ar.

Mungo said...

Bugs Bunny used to pass through often as well...

(He always should've taken the left turn at Albuquerque, but I have also on occasion heard him say "Cucamonga"...)

marjie said...

I stand by Star Trek Land. It sounds better.

Megan said...

WOW! that is so weird! I thought that we got all the water, but I guess not! =)