The Big Wet


When we get wet in Vietnam, we get really wet. Jon Aspin and Natalia Martinez take a look at some of the things that really matter when the heavens open up, and asked the whole Word team for their top tips.




Stop denying it. Who do you think you are? The Australian Prime Minister? All the signs of climate change are here. They have been for weeks. You’ve been dreading it, sure, but don’t act surprised, you’ve known about it for ages — since last year at least. So put away those brightly coloured tank tops, and those ridiculous denim cut-offs, it’s time to break out a poncho my friends. It’s August, you’re in Vietnam, and whether you like it or not, you’re about to get wet.


Flash Flood


From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, the country is about to undergo its annual drenching. While up north and in the north centre, the rain gets heavy in the Autumn and Winter, down south the weather comes in two varieties: dry or wet. According to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, this means at least four to five storms and the usual tropical lows for Hanoians. In Ho Chi Minh City, expect regular heavy downpours, and by regular we mean daily. These are the types of flash-flood inducing rains that cause schools to close (yay!), cities to more or less shut down and unfortunately, lives to be lost. Sorry to get all ‘fun police’ on you, but bear that in mind next time you’re posing for a wet weather snap in your neighbours’ ‘urban canoe’. For a breakdown and comparison of all the stats that matter, and a short history of some hectic wet weather, check out our nifty little infographic on the next page.




Far from taking ourselves too seriously, we need to talk about what’s important when the rains do come. I’m talking fashion, ladies and gentlemen, and how to rock that wet weather look.


Whether you’re going to work, meeting your crush or just hanging out with your buds, you don’t want a bit of rain ruining your style, and by style we mean hair-style. Of course flip-flops (‘thongs’ if your Australian, ‘jandals’ if you like sounding like a Kiwi), rubber boots and a raincoat are the obvious objects ‘de rigeur’ in the wet season, but when it comes to hair there are a few different options.


The plait. For the forward thinkers among us, put your hair together in a braid before it evens starts raining. Once it stops and your hair starts to dry, set that lion’s mane free and you've got yourself some luxurious waves. No styling charge necessary.


The high wet ponytail. Low maintenance is key when you’re bouncing between appointments. Comb your hair super tight and put it in a tail for a hassle-free waxed look. Also makes you look 17 percent more sporty.


The natural look. If you’re like us and you live your life in slow-motion replay, don’t do anything. Just keep your helmet on until the rain stops, and when it does, look as cool as possible taking it off, stare confidently into middle distance and shake that impressive head of hair out like you’re walking onto the set of Casino Royale. You’ll be snapped up by waiting talent scouts in no time. Or sniggered at by 10 year olds.


One other fashion tip for the ladies if you're not looking at attracting unwanted attention, or perhaps if you are, always wear a sheer white blouse, preferably loosely buttoned. Do we need to say more?


Top Tips for the Marooned


Ok, so when it’s poured down every day at the same time for the last month, your street is flooded and you’re marooned in your own home — which is by now crawling with fleeing insects — here’s a few top tips and stories from the Word team to make your wait more useful:


“Rainboots are de rigueur for the wet market ladies, and only wet market ladies, my friends. Expect a few funny stares.” — Jill Kester


“Don’t be surprised when your ten-dollar ‘waterproof North Face’ bag you bought in a street market in Peru turns out not in fact, to be waterproof” — Kieran Crowe


“Avoid certain street foods on rainy days. There is nothing worse for your stomach than eating bun cha that’s been cooked on a street that has received a regular splash of water from cars driving over potholes. Trust me.” — David Mann


“Don’t be afraid of getting wet, darlings.”— Noey Neumark


“Don’t play chicken with the rain. You’ll never win. Shopping in hand and just two blocks from home, one time I decided to go for it, poncho stashed naively under my seat. After just a few seconds down it came, all at once. My Converse were full of water, my underwear was saturated and I ended up leaving a small pond on the floor of my building’s elevator. I’ve never tried to outrun a rainstorm since.”— Simon Stanley


“Wear shorts all the time, but if pants are a must, you should have two rubber bands in your wallet. You can roll you pants up to your knees and secure them with the rubber bands.” — Vu Kim Ha Vy


“Pardon the pun but ‘splash out’ on a good raincoat. Buying the VND10,000 roadside ‘body condoms’ are only good for one ride before they tear apart.” — Harry Hodge


“Go back to your own country. It might be dry there.” — Niko Savvas


“If you drive an old Vespa or a Lambretta, always carry spare spark plugs. Nothing’s worse than having soaked plugs when you’re caught in a rainstorm. Believe me, I know...” — Nick Ross


“There’s no greater feeling than watching other people being bothered by the rain. But I’m a pessimist. I live in a penthouse and keep a raft ready just in case.” — Devin Monaghan


“I keep a fan at work in case my shoes get soaked by the rain. I can’t stand going all day with wet feet. True story.” — Gabriel Villalobos


Sh*t Happens


Having recently moved into a new villa, I was feeling well pleased with the leafy green backyard and pool that I’d inherited. Then, one night during what I considered to be only a mild storm, the ‘bread-fruit’ tree that provided the most shade, and let’s face it, character to the whole garden, decided to commit suicide into the pool. No joke, it uprooted itself and covered half the pool and half the garden with debris, taking out some roof tiles, a dolphin fountain and an outdoor set of table and chairs with it. This was no sapling.


Confronting this scene at three o’clock in the morning was one of the strangest things I’d ever experienced. Half expecting to find a burglar’s dead body trapped under a branch in my pool, this was my Donnie Darko moment. I even looked up in anticipation of a falling satellite. Awakening my housemate to break the news, we were devastated that our garden would never be the same. Luckily we weren’t in the pool when it happened.


So look out for falling trees during the rain, drive safely and always, always, always stick to the middle of the road. 

More in this category: « Wastelands Mistaken Identity »

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