Tag Archives: WEATHER

Frog on Boots

These days in Laos, everybody’s trying to get out of the rain. This frog spent an afternoon on the cool surface of my boot recently. He was the exact color of the mud outside our gate, so at first I thought he was just a big mud blob. Lucky for him, I decided to not to venture out in the monsoon.


Flash Flood Freakiness

As we wrapped up our first week back at school, I was feeling neglectful of The Guide Hog but too busy to do anything blog-worthy. And then Mother Nature handed me a story.

Rain pounded Vientiane overnight, but that’s nothing new in this wet season. As we headed out the door for school this morning in the deluge, I donned my water-resistant ride-to-school pants, purple plastic poncho and polka-dotted gumboots and then climbed on back of Tony’s motorbike. I prefer to hitch a ride rather than pedal on days like this.

When we arrived at school, we parked the bike and walked toward our classrooms. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until we turned the corner around the administration building. The whole field and playground area had transformed into a lake. My first thought was, “Rain day!” But then I remembered where I was. If we canceled classes for every downpour, we’d have to teach all summer to make up the missed time. No thanks.



I often work with small groups at these outdoor tables, but unfortunately, none of the children came to school in hip waders today.

I had supervision duty here at break time, but my main job today was to tell kids, “Don’t even think about it!” To make up for the playground prohibition, I taught them how to play “Red Light-Green Light” on the sidewalk. That was a surprisingly big hit.

The hallways in the secondary building were literally crawling with every little creature seeking refuge from the flood – spiders, roaches, crickets, beetles, frogs, snakes, snails, you name it.

Many of us felt disconcerted that our 2-year-old campus could experience such terrible flooding problems. We worried that a poorly designed drainage system might lead to weeks of indoor recess (every teacher’s nightmare). We wondered if the land would eventually return to its previous incarnation as a rice paddy. Our new director asked if I knew what a cubit was in case we had to build an ark. (I didn’t.)

Luckily, our facilities manager, a spunky Thai woman named Ben, found the source of the problem. She borrowed my boots, waded into the flood water, and discovered the school’s drainage system worked perfectly to channel the water off campus and into large ditches. Ben also discovered that the pooled water in the ditches was a popular fishing spot for village children. When the heavy rains and flood run-off created a strong current in the ditches, the children used their problem-solving skills and built a dam, effectively trapping the fish and flooding our campus.

After Ben dismantled the dam (and survived an encounter with a large eel), the water and the drama quickly ebbed.

What’s Hot? What’s Not?

Lady Gaga. Edward or Jacob? Celebrity reality shows. Farmville. The iPad. Know what else is hot?
My toiletries.

We have air-conditioning units in our dining room and bedrooms, and that’s it. Today’s temperature is 100°F, so anything not located in the dining room or bedrooms is getting broiled. Sometimes it’s nice to slather warm body butter on my feet before I go to bed, but when I start sweating straight out of the shower, I don’t really want my facial moisturizer to heat up my skin like Ben-Gay.

Just for kicks, I conducted a little experiment on our toiletries, and the results were surprising. I’m sure some brainiacs out there could explain this phenomenon, but I did not expect to see such a range of temperatures. I mean, all of these products live in the same sweltering room. Why didn’t they all have the same temperature?

Here’s the rundown (my thermometer only gives readings in Fahrenheit, so I apologize to those of you in the metric world): Our toothpaste got the hottest with a blazing temp of 97.4°F. Shaving cream stayed the coolest with a relatively chilly temp of 95.7°F.

hot toiletries

hot toiletries 2

Feeling very clever, I took my experiment one step further, using the scientific method:
(1) Ask a Question – Is there a relationship between the tap labeled “cold” and the actual temperature of the water?
(2) Construct a Hypothesis – Turning on the “cold” tap will release cold water out of the faucet.
(3) Test the Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment – I turned on the “cold” tap and used my thermometer to measure the temperature of the water. At first, the water temperature was 90.4°F, which I believe would universally be considered not cold. After letting the water run for a bit to get the hot water out of the pipes, I measured the temperature again: 92.7°F. It actually got hotter.
(4) Draw a Conclusion – It seems there are two potential conclusions. (a) My hypothesis was wrong, and there is no cold water in Laos. (b) My hypothesis was correct, and “cold” in Laos is a relative term defined as being around 92°F.

So you know what’s NOT hot in Vientiane? Nothing.

Singing in the Rain

As the poster child for Seasonal Affective Disorder, I am a girl who knows rain. I know exactly how much rain it takes to put me in a funk (3 hours of nonstop drizzle). I know exactly how much precipitation must fall before I move from the funk to a near-vegetative state (24 hours of steady rain). And I can tell you how many dreary rain-filled days I’ll wait before plugging in the good ol’ Happy Light to bask in its simulated sunshine (7).
Therefore, the bliss I feel these days is truly unprecedented. Folks, it’s rainy season in Laos. And you ain’t never seen rain like this.
When we lived in Kansas, I once drove my Chevette with its rusted-out floorboards in a massive thunderstorm because I needed to pick up a Prozac prescription. At one point in my crosstown journey, the water in my car was up to my knees. But, I swear, that “downpour” was a mere sprinkle compared to the daily deluge here.
I later totaled my Saturn by driving through our church parking lot-cum-lake in another one of those famous Midwestern storms. Yet, again, I must insist that such spittle would not even qualify as “rain” in Southeast Asia.
In Laos, there’s really no such thing as “raindrops.” You can’t see individual drops because the water is literally gushing from the sky like an open fire hydrant.
And then … quite suddenly … it stops.
The rains cease; the skies clear; and the sun gets to work. The temporary pond that blocks my front gate drains away, and within hours even the mud dries up. Most of the time, those wild raucous house-shaking storms happen at night, and by morning, the air smells fresh and the roads are just a wee bit damp for my bike ride to school.
Occasionally, like today, the rains douse Vientiane all … day … long. You might fret that, by now, I must have moved from funk to comatose, but I feel remarkably upbeat. The sun’s promise to return soon has kept me sane so far.
Singing in the Rain