Terry – The Accidental Tourist
We woke up smiling this morning – the angry skies had lifted to a lighter grey and a mild drizzle of rain. The flood waters have receded by about 100m along our street, possibly down by a meter in height (though that could be tidal) and some clean-up has begun, streets freshly cleared of silt, leaves and litter.
And my glasses keep steaming up. The weather has turned. We almost have shadows.
The street markets are still above the flood line, all fresh veg and seafood and hacked meats. Chickens ducking in wire baskets and snakes winding around each other in colourful basins. Scooters doing their drive-through shopping thing, and the noise level un-dampened by the previous days’ downpour. Tarpaulins drip in focused funnels over helmets, bamboo hats, plastic cloaks and unprotected necklines. It’ll be a while before their full trade resumes.
Typhoon Damrey drove hoards of tourists from their hotels, home stays and backpacker beds. Boats and trucks and bicycles and scooters evacuated people and luggage, some folk simply wading knee-deep through the water, cases on shoulders. Everybody wet through despite the rainbow of rain-cloaks. Barefoot. Or like me, blistered because I couldn’t cope with the thought of walking without my shoes.
But this exodus has meant that the most lucrative tourist month for this chain of traders – the small-crop farmers that supply the market daily, the market traders that supply restaurants and hostels and home stay kitchens and restaurants, and the tailors and souvenir shops, tour guides and drivers – all lost custom. The next wave of tourists will no doubt arrive, if they haven’t cancelled after news of the storm. Will the dignitaries still fly in for APEC?
Apparently these storms happen several times a year. But it’s still devastating.
For our part, we discovered a new coffee shop, modern (read adult-sized chairs), filled with locals for our morning outing, and a different, trendy, wine-bar for our evening walk, filled with designer-styled waiters and soggy Westerners.
In between, we cocoon in our room, listening to LM radio, watching Morse on YouTube and drinking Jasmine tea. After all, it’s the end of typhoon season.