Mar 17 2015

Five things-Laos (3): Hot. Damned hot

How do you say “Holy crap, it’s hot out!” in Lao?

So! New Orleans summers too warm for you? Think DC is nothing but a hot-air swamp? Find Minnesota summers insufferable?

Heh!

Welcome to Southeast Asia.

Two seasons

I took this photo of a poor shivering soul at about 10:00 am on January 26. The weather for that particular day—broken down by the hour—can be found here (for those WeatherFiends amongst you). At 10:00 am, it was 75°. In two hours, it would be 90°, with 94% humidity.

Laos-Cold lady

Winter in Vientiane.

Weather in Laos can be divided into two primary seasons: hot and wet; hot and dry.

November through February is the cool dry season; winter(ish). This is really a very pleasant time to visit, and at elevation, it can actually be pretty chilly in the mornings.

The next few months—March through April—is the hot, dry, dusty, smoky season. Bleh.

The rainy season runs from May through October. I absolutely love monsoon rains.1)The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (amusingly known as NOAA) provides a nice, succinct summary of the difference between a typhoon, hurricane, and cyclone. They also provide a slightly less succinct description of monsoon. These storms bring childhood memories of counting thunder (one one-thousand, two one-thousand; or my sister-in-law’s version: one Ferrari, two Ferrari…). Of full-contact cribbage and backgammon by candlelight during the frequent power outages. Of dodging herds of flying termites.

From my privileged box seats (not living in a low-lying village in Pakistan, for example), monsoon rains seem to come along at just the right times and with just the right drama and refreshment. They usually don’t last for more than a few hours, although they can drop monstrous quantities of rain in that time. The result is a general cleaning and freshening, and the sun comes back, shining and glorious!

Now: let’s put our first year Chemistry class to good use. Remember what happens when you heat water?

Eeyup—heated water evaporates and turns to steam! In atmospheric terms: humidity. Lots o’ humidity! Like zo:

Laos-Weather-Avg Humidity

Laos-Weather-Avg Temperatures

Courtesy http://www.weather-and-climate.com/average-monthly-Rainfall-Temperature-Sunshine-fahrenheit,Vientiane,Laos

Hand-crafted paper umbrellas-Laos

Colorful umbrellas, Luang Prabang, Laos. CC Image courtesy of ¡kuba!, available here.

So, my two cents:

  • Buy an umbrella when you arrive—one of the cute ones hand-made out of rice paper. It’s a nice souvenir, it will keep out the sun, and you’ll be in good company.
  • Learn to wear a bandanna gracefully or be resigned to wearing a hat all day—it’ll keep the sweat out of your eyes. (Unless you’re me, in which case I advise a Twiggy hair cut and a towel.)
  • Get used to Monsoon Time—if it’s pouring, sit back, have another coffee or BeerLao, and wait ’til it stops.
  • Drink water. Drink LOTS of water.

References   [ + ]

1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (amusingly known as NOAA) provides a nice, succinct summary of the difference between a typhoon, hurricane, and cyclone. They also provide a slightly less succinct description of monsoon.
1 Comments
  1. Rhoda

    Try being a physical education teacher and coach of girls’ sports (put swim coach on hold a second) from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. five days a week. No air conditioned gymnasium and no retractable roof over the soccer field. Hot, hot, hot! In 1973 when the monsoons finally arrived, and I heard the heavenly sound of pouring rain on my BOQ apartment #5 roof in K-6, I put on my running shoes, as few clothes as decently possible, and I RAN the streets of K-6, my mouth wide open, my head tilted to the feel every drop. I ran and ran, soaking in the wet that I had craved for months and not caring a whit that I must have looked like a crazy woman to any K-6 resident who happened to notice a drenched female figure passing by.

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