Tropical countries in South-East Asia like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia experience something known as monsoon season.
This season occurs when the winds change direction and thus creating unusually wet weather for a period of a few months.
The months vary depending on the geographical location of the country. For example, Thailand normally has heavy rainfall around May-June and October-November months.
Many farmers also depend on the monsoon for their crops. Unlike other countries with snow melt, large lakes or aquifers, many South-East Asian countries rely on monsoon rains for their yearly water supply.
So if you are looking to travel during monsoon to take advantage of off-peak prices or you are experiencing your first monsoon as a new resident
So brace yourself, because monsoon rains are coming! Here are some tips from us on how to make the most of the season:
1. Always Be Prepared for Sudden Showers
Nothing brings your day to a grinding halt faster than being stuck somewhere because it started raining.
So before you walk out the door to go outside, take a raincoat or umbrella with you.
It's always better to play it safe if you are heading out for more than an hour, regardless of whether or not you think it will rain.
Especially if you are going out for a whole day, as nice weather in the morning doesn't guarantee it will remain rain-free later in the day.
If anything, the sun speeds up evaporation and makes the likelihood of it raining later higher.
Raincoats provide good all-round coverage and will protect you from getting wet even with strong winds.
Umbrellas are easy to put away and provide the best protection for the upper half of your body.
Bringing both is even better if you can for maximum rain protection!
In the event you forget to bring one, they are usually for sale at a convenience store or supermarket.
Alternatively, if you are traveling, hotels and resorts will often have umbrellas their guests can borrow as well.
2. Find the Forecast for Your Area
Don't dismiss all your outdoor plans involving the sunshine just yet!
There will still be many days of the season that are rain-free.
Thanks to technology we can easily find out the weather forecast online at any time of the day.
You can do a Google search, download an app, or even have a widget installed on your smart phone or watch.
Forecasts are also updated real-time via the Internet. Unless you want to, there is no need to watch the weather report on TV in the mornings or buy a newspaper like we did 10 years ago.
It's also a good idea to keep an eye on tropical storms in other countries in the geographic region too.
A tropical storm one country over can blow over to where you are depending on the winds.
Of course, there is also the good old fashioned way of finding the weather forecast for your area: observational skills.
A sky covered in dark clouds is a sure sign that rain will shortly fall.
3. Avoid the Worst Part of Monsoon: Flooding
Rain by itself is only a minor inconvenience. It is what occurs as a result of the rainfall that causes problems.
Flooding is probably one of the worst potential consequences of the seasonal heavy rainfall. Destruction of property and obstruction of roads are just a few of the things a flood can disrupt.
However, it's also usually an avoidable problem caused more by human error than natural causes.
If you can, avoid areas known for flooding or built on flood plains. These areas will flood seasonally, and the people in charge development neglected that fact.
Living near a river, canal or body of water increases the flood risk as well. When water levels rise with rainfall, it's very easy for these areas to flood.
Staying on the high ground if possible will reduce the risks. Be careful if you are camping outdoors especially!
Try to not wade in flood water if it's avoidable since it's very unsanitary and potentially dangerous.
Even after the water goes down and there are only puddles left, don't let your guard down!
Cars driving past you may end up splashing that remaining water on you.
4. Keep Your Body in Healthy and Working Order
This is easier said than done. The change of climate that comes with frequent rains can make you more vulnerable to illness.
First off, the frequent rains result in more exposure to dirty water and a rise of waterborne diseases.
Raw produce is riskier to eat during monsoon season. Wash and soak your raw vegetables well, or steam them before consuming.
Secondly, getting partially wet or totally soaked from the rain water destabilizes your body temperature and makes you vulnerable to sickness.
The best remedy is to stabilize your temperature with a shower.
The third health issue to watch out for is potential fungal infections, especially if you have to wear damp clothes or shoes for a long period of time.
Getting out of the wet clothes, washing up and drying off quickly will help prevent fungal infections.
Of course, you should also boost your body's immunity to combat against the monsoon sicknesses.
Make sure you get some exercise, drink plenty of water or herbal tea, intake the required vitamins and eat plenty of hot foods.
5. Pay Attention to Warnings
Weather conditions can make what is safe one season more dangerous in another.
This is especially true with travel and activities outside the city zone like mountains, rivers, and oceans.
Weather at higher altitudes is much less predictable, able to turn on a dime.
Rain makes mountains a more treacherous environment. Slippery slopes can cause accidents, so take it slow.
Waterfalls and rivers are a marvel to look at, thanks to the overflow caused by the rainfall.
However, they are also more dangerous as a result, so observe from a safe distance! View from a safe distance to avoid slipping and falling in.
Ocean currents during monsoon season can be more dangerous. When it looks like there is an incoming storm, avoid going out in the ocean or staying close to rocks crashing against the waves.
Heavy rain also greatly decreases visibility underwater and the ideal weather conditions for jellyfish.
Beaches are not exempt from this as well. Heavy winds can make some beaches less than pleasant. If you thought getting sand in your shoes was annoying, wait until there is flying sand everywhere!
Just remember to always be safe, even if it means canceling your plans due to bad weather.
6. Wear Things You Don't Mind Getting Wet
No matter how careful you are, there is always a risk of getting water damage or stains on your favourite things you wear outside in monsoon.
This is especially true of your shoes, which will have to navigate around puddles even when it's not raining.
So trade your favourite shoes of choice, whether they be Jordans, Jimmy Choos, or Converse, for something more practical and ideally waterproof.
You ideally want your footwear to have great traction to avoid slipping on wet surfaces. Even better if they are quick to dry.
This also goes to a lesser extent for your clothes, bags, and gadgets that are less than compatible with water.
Give them give them adequate water-protection or save them for the dry season when after monsoon rains are over!
If you are caught in a pinch, head into a nearby store like a 7/11, supermarket, and get a plastic bag which you can use to keep essentials like phone and wallet dry.
No one will judge you for even wearing Crocs on your days off here. (Mostly.)
7. Have Emergency Essentials Available at Home
It's always a good idea to have some basic items available at your home in the event of a bad storm or emergency.
You give yourself the option to stay at home when the weather is bad, instead of braving the elements outside because you are hungry or thirsty.
There will be days where the weather so bad that not only do you not want to go out, but it might be impossible.
Problems that may impede your ability to go outside flooding, black outs, and heavy traffic.
Having a stock of emergency canned food and drinking water means that even if your area gets flooded for a few days, you won't have to wade through floodwater for basic necessities.
Heavy rains also increase the risk of power cuts or electrical blackouts, so have flashlight and batteries readily available.
A basic first aid kit in your home is also useful for every situation, regardless of the season.
The likelihood you will use these resources are low, but it will be helpful on the off-chance you find yourself in dire straits.
8. Make New Friends or Enemies Of the Non-Human Variety
When it rains, it pours. When it pours, everything is looking to escape the rain and your home may just be that place.
During or after rainfall, you may be finding yourself with new roommates that you did not think you would be sharing your space with.
Refugees from the rain in our living space can include cockroaches, spiders, centipedes, snakes, and scorpions.
Though these incidents are more common in rural areas, you aren't exempt from having it occur in big cities as well!
There are preventative measures you can do to minimize unwanted surprises.
First of all, keep your toilet lid down when not in use to prevent unwanted visitors coming out of the pipes.
Second is to close up any gaps you find in the home, with permission of your landlord of course! Doors in particular often have a small crack underneath that may allow critters to enter.
Thirdly, keep your shoes indoors or check the insides of shoes left outside before putting them on. A good shake will knock out anything hiding inside.
Most creatures are harmless and more of an annoyance. However be cautious when dealing with wild animals.
For the more dangerous creatures, you can call non-emergency local hotlines to the animal control, police or fire department (depending on where you are) for help.
9. Accept That Delays and Cancellations Will Occur
Good news: timeliness isn't strictly enforced in most South East Asian cultures, with the exception of Singapore.
However, even valuing punctuality doesn't change the fact that monsoon rains can cause unavoidable delays.
Unforeseen circumstances such as heavy rain, strong winds, and flooding can cause train delays, car accidents and various other circumstances that cause people to run late.
What is normally an easy 20-minute commute can be a 1 hour battle with the elements.
So, if you have an appointment you absolutely cannot miss, it would be wise to leave earlier than normal.
Don't expect the weather to be on your side. Give yourself and others room for leeway with time.
That's not to say that it is acceptable to always be late during monsoon season, but many are certainly able to sympathize if the weather impedes your journey.
10. The Rain Has Gone, But It's Not Over Yet
The raining outside has stopped and the water is gone, so now what?
Well, there is still one thing left to do to ensure everyone around you has a more enjoyable monsoon season.
Check your balcony, backyard and general outdoor area for stagnant water that hasn't been evaporated.
Rain water can gather and stagnate in trash cans, discarded tires, litter or even your plant pots.
This water becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which are vectors for many diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.
Not dealing with stagnant water in your area will result in getting more mosquitoes in your general vicinity.
More mosquitoes mean you are much more likely to be on the receiving end of their itchy bites.
It's also a good idea to invest in some mosquito repellent as well!
You're Ready to Tackle an Internship in Asia
Rain or shine, Asia has a lot to offer for any prospective interns looking to get international working experience.
The wonders of our tropical Asian destinations await you!
Do you have any monsoon life hack tips to share? Leave us a comment to let us know!