Saturday after the heavy rain in Hanoi

I thought it was just eight o’clock when I woke up this morning because I did not hear the alarm from my phone; I was shocked to realize it was already 11 o’clock. So I rushed to take a bath and start my day, although I knew I did not have any plans lined up. Just when I was about to bathe in cold water, the bathroom light went off and the rain outside started to pour. Cold water and no electricity do not go together so well. I took a quick shower and had lunch with my friend and her mom.

My friend and I waited until three in the afternoon for the electricity to return. We talked about the results of flooding in some areas of Hanoi. She read in the news that there were five people who already died because of this flood in the outskirts of the capital. These are generally rural areas but are considered part of Hanoi since the city government extended its scope several months ago. Two women were carried away by flood and a man and his son were hit by lighting while draining their rice field of excess water.

How unfair things are. When calamities hit, they hit worst the ill-prepared. But who are the least prepared? The poor of course. Preparing for a calamity is the last in their list of concerns, for finding food and other basic necessities are more urgent. Being hit by lightning, however, is a totally different thing, if it is not providential then it must be luck.

Around four, I decided to go to gym after boredom took the better of me. But it was a shock when flood met me again on my way to the fitness club. Not wanting to risk contracting leptospirosis, I went back home. In the middle of the way back home, I thought of documenting the effect of flood in the center of Hanoi. Below are the pictures taken using a 2 mega pixels Sony Ericsson camera phone:

A street in Kim Lien that was left unpassable by motorbikes and cars.

A facade of an ancient temple transformed into a residential area. The area is used as a short cut every time the traffic jam in the intersection of Kim Lien escalates which is worsen by the slow construction of an underpass.

Business as usual for these women selling lottery tickets outside Van Mieu (Temple of Literature) and foreign tourists whose sense of adventure to “discover” a third world history remain strong in spite of the intermittent rain and flood. Here they are waiting for a ride in their chartered bus outside the temple.

Lovers wading in and holding each other while strolling beside the overflowing Ho Dac Si, a small lake near the author’s house.

Fishing in the street. These men doing a desperate attempt to save this month’s catch from the nearby fish cage located in Ho Dac Si.

On the way home.

Floody Friday

Monsoon in Vietnam supposed to have started around June and would’ve peaked in September. However, because of climate change and other environmental disturbances man has brought about, it did not anymore surprise me when rain came apouring without any sign of abetting starting in Monday of this week.

I failed to attend my class this afternoon because the way to my school was heavily flooded. Ba Dinh district in Hanoi is so susceptible to sudden rise in flood water because its low level with respect to other places in the city. Aside from that, it has numerous lakes that serve as catch basins for excess rainwater, and since raining has not stopped since Monday, all its small lakes overflowed submerging the entire place; and unfortunately for me, my university is located in the center of the district.

Seeing that the narrow street to my school was flooded, and not wanting to miss class, I tried to find alternative route. But this caused me more harm than good. Trying to avoid getting wet and wading in flood water, my search for a dry street leading to my school ended in vain, instead I got caught in a frenzy of motorists trying their best to cross the knee-deep, murky flood water. When I reached Daewoo Hotel, several hundred meters from my school, the roller chain of my bike get caught between the gears. Without any lever to remove the stuck chain it was just impossible. Then two boys approached me and volunteered to fix my bike for me. Business as usual, it’s just amazing to think that in adversities like this people will always think of earning money. They charged me 20,000 dongs, I said it was too much. Then I bargained for 10,000. They mistook me for a Singaporean and told me that I must be rich. I took my wallet, and concluded the awkward situation by offering them 15,000 dongs. Case closed.

I wasn’t able to attend class. I got wet. I got lost.

I’m scared I might have contracted leptospirosis because I took off my shoes when the flood was already capable of drowning me. I will not bear thinking that when people ask about the cause of my death, then the answer will be: “Ah, it’s because of the urine of rats in flood water. What a pity.”

I love rain but too much rain is just too much.