Monsoon is about to begin. There is a magical tension in the air marking a beginning of the new season and nature coming back to life after the dry season. It is not there yet in the full force, but it is steadily gaining the pace. In Laos it has been raining almost every evening, but since recently in the morning and daytime too. I noticed first signs of monsoon on Don Det, when occasional storms turned into a daily pattern. A typical tropical storm starts with unbearable humidity and heat. Then it starts winding bringing much sought relief and finally it begins bringing buckets of water, blinding lightnings and bass-heavy thunders. It is a spectacular show with lights and sounds, especially in absence of other forms of entertainment choices. Once I saw a lightning show going non-stop for more than an hour with no thunder or rain, just lightnings magically illuminating clouds. Storms usually do not last long – an hour or so with a refreshing after-dribble at times. Only once I witnessed a prolonged storm that started in the middle of the night and continued well into the late morning. The kicker was that we had to drive 70km of a dirt road on a motorbike the next day. Fortunately it did not rain during that time otherwise we would have been completely doomed. Some storms are violent like one time in Tha Khaek, when a brief, but extremely powerful storm resulted in a massive havoc. It lasted maybe 20 minutes, but the aftermath included broken trees and shattered rooftops. Amazing how much damage a single storm can cause out of the blue in such a short period of time. Tropical nature does not fool around.
This is the first year of my life without a cold winter. It has been the sunny summer with occasional rains for the last six months. I saw a glimpse of the winter and a little bit of snow in Siberia and Mongolia last October, but that is about it. At some point in the peak of the dry season I made a realization that the dry season is essentially a tropical equivalent of the winter of the temperate zone. In both cases nature dies or goes into hibernation only to be reawaken with the coming of the spring/monsoon. Similarities do no end here. The dried out landscape in Pai around March reminded me of ruska time of early autumn in Finland with all its yellow and red hues. Different causes for the color change, but the result is very similar. At times I found it hard to believe that I was still in tropics, especially when temperature dramatically dropped in the nighttime making a thick duvet necessary. Looking back I have been very lucky with the weather having avoided floods of Thailand islands and most of heavy prolonged storms. Let’s see if this trend continues for the rest of my journey.
I cannot say that I missed winter that much, although the proper snowy winter has got a special place in my heart. Especially snow-clad tundra in Lapland with its total silence and tranquility. Until the next season thenâ€¦