Monsoons in Mandalay

In a previous post (Musing on Myanmar in Mandalay), I mentioned how intense the rains are here in Mandalay. On Sunday, 9/14/2014, Mandalay was hit by an especially thorough and heavy monsoon. The heavy rain began at about 2 a.m. and lasted until ~11 a.m. Now, when I say “heavy rain,” I mean the type of rain that wakes you up at night because it’s falling so densely and you are worried because the roof might cave in on your head.

We reached the road in front of the school at approximately 8:45 a.m. As Danielle and I were walking to the school, one of our colleagues was returning back and shaking her head. I didn’t understand why until we reached the road. It was completely flooded with water so high it reached about half-way up your calf. I decided that I would ford the river since I knew my students would more than likely show up to their classes. Luckily, we wear sandals everyday to work!

After crossing the road, we reached the courtyard of the school (also flooded) where one of Danielle’s students was waiting in a van. Fortunately, he offered us a ride from the courtyard to the school building where we teach. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the building, it was flooded as well so it really didn’t matter–it only changed the amount of time we spent wading through the water.

To be honest, the rain here is nice. I love it. It can rain for hours, stop immediately, and turn into the nicest day. When you’re teaching in a 31-32 degree Celsius room, rain is a blessing. You can feel the stifling heat lift away in seconds. All the students smile and you gain your second wind.

A monsoon in Mandalay brings about a lot of curious incidents. People falling in drainage channels (drainage pipes buried underground are an expensive luxury here) because they can’t see where they are walking, dogs and cats showing up while you are teaching because they are seeking shelter from the rain, and students who arrive two-and-a-half hours late because all the roads are flooded around Mandalay (yes, some of my teachers ride their motorbikes over two-to-three hours one way because they live outside of the city).


I loved thunderstorms in Texas. Rolling clouds on the horizon which rise up through the sky and touch space, the flashes of lightning and thunder so loud it shakes all the furniture in your house–nothing better. The power of a thunderstorm in Texas always held me in awe–like watching a god step from the firmament to the earth.

I hated the rain in Shanghai. It was gross–rather than making everything cleaner, it made everything dirtier. How does that happen? Also, it was inconvenient: groups of people huddled in front of subway entrances or exits too afraid to get wet; people whapping you in the face every ten feet as you try to dodge all the umbrellas; buses and cars flying into puddles and cascading you in water; and the endless gray days because when the rain went away it was replaced by pollution.

I have to say that I think I will love the monsoons here. The dense and intense rainfall is like a lullaby or a song. When it rains, the city takes a bath and afterwards everything feels that much cleaner (except for the mud around the roads–that is still dirty). It’s refreshing, like jumping into a pool on a torrid afternoon. Thank you, Myanmar!


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