The Art of Traveling in the Rain

Travel Anecdotes and Then Some

It was 7:30am and a heavy rain was pounding Khao San Road on the first morning of my third visit to Bangkok.

The stalls and food carts that lined up the city streets were forced to pack-up and take shelter in the rows of low-rise building around.

Overcast skies  greeted me when I went out of my hotel room and decided to take a walking tour. I managed to take a 15-minute walk but I quickly took shelter at Mulligans, an  Irish street cafe as soon as huge drops of rain finally fell from grey clouds above.

raining in Asakusa

All around me, backpackers were  running, trying desperately to hide from the downpour.

Some wore plastic coats that protected their backpacks from the heavy rains. Those who were not as lucky and could not afford to have their backpacks (which probably contained their clothes, books, passports, their whole worlds) soaked, had to contend in taking cover from the rain, looking so glum and irrirated.

I couldn’t blame them since I too have had a share of trips that have gone horribly wrong no thanks to heavy downpours.

A few years back, against by better judgment, I decided to troop all the way to Wan Chai from my hotel room in Tsim Tsa Tsui, Kowloon to visit the wax museum and take the tram to Victoria Peak. The local weather bureau has advised possible rain showers due to the approaching typhoon but being the stubborn guy that I am, i pushed ahead with the trip and crossed the islands through the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) and the MTR. During the trip, the wind howled increasingly louder and the rain fell harder as the storm signals rose from 4 to 8.

My first trip to Boracay, which I pictured to be filled with fun-filled activities under the sun, was also marred by torrential rains and I didn’t come back until after three years.

When I first visited Tokyo, I promised myself that I will have a picture at the Tokyo tower but that too failed to materialize no thanks to a typhoon.

Despite the disappointments rain has caused me, I cannot seem to feel bad about it but some people obviously do.

I glanced at nearby backpackers and they seemed to be even more agitated as the skies show no proof of clearing up anytime soon. I can understand their disappointment with the travel delays but what can’t they savor the city in the rain?

I was still lost in thoughts when a girl dressed in bohemian skirt approached and asked me if she could share the table. I looked around and saw that every table, except mine was full and I immediately offered her a seat.

Raining in Tsim Tsa Tsui

She was a 19 year-old Israeli named Zivah, which amazingly, meant splendor in Hebrew. She purchased tickets for a bus tour to Ho Chi Minh and then to Luang Prabang in Lao and she was just waiting to be picked up.

I asked her what she thought of the rain, and she frowned. “Rain causes pain and heart aches,” she told me mysteriously. ” Excuse me, what do you mean,” I asked her stupidly and she gave a shrug.

Most travelers, Zivah said, are wandering souls, searching endlessly for someplace where they can feel a sense of belongingness, a place where they can feel truly accepted, wanted and loved.

Of course, they want to see new sights, meet new people and experience new cultures. But deep inside, sometimes, subconsciously, they want to know if that new place can be their home and that new people can be their family.

Rain, she continued, causes these travelers to stop and delay their soul-searching journeys.

Travelers, do not like being stranded, not because they couldn’t enjoy the sights around them but because in times of solitude or in moments when they are stranded, they couldn’t help but look back at their lives so far. Have they accomplished much? Have they made too many mistakes? Is there any hope for redemption?

I looked at Zivah and  I knew that she instantly she was speaking from experience.Curiously I asked why she was too eager to leave. She turned to me and gave a sigh.

All people, not just travelers, feel nostalgic when it rains, she told me. Its just more difficult for travelers who are caught thousands of miles away from both the home they were raised in, and the home they wanted to belong to.

I searched within me and realized that she was right, I was starting to feel nostalgic as rain continues to fall in this tiny strip in central Bangkok. I reflected on my career so far and I knew I still had lots of things to prove. I remembered my family back in Manila and I acknowledged the fact that we were continuously drifting apart.

The rain also made me think of my first ever date in June of 1999. It was also raining and I was sitting inside a car parked inside my university. I was kissing a guy 10 years older than me who promised me that we will be together for a long time. We went out as lovers but after four months, it was over and rains reminded me of the tears I cried over my first heartache.

I would have gone on and on thinking of past memories but the rain, which had been pounding the city for nearly an hour, was starting to break up.

Backpackers around us started to get a move on, carrying their backpacks, walking, and running towards various directions.

Zivah lingered for a few more minutes until her bus towards Vietnam came to pick her up. She gave me a piece of paper bearing her name and email address and we promised to keep in touch. .

The bus driver sped away from the street so fast and I was convinced that his passengers were really in a hurry.

I was finishing my second cup of when it started to rain again. Instead of hurrying back to my hotel room, I decided to stay and enjoy the rain. And the memories started coming back to me.

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