Joko MacKenna


Surviving Myanmar's rainy season

It's the middle of May, the beginning of the rainy season! I've got some tips for you to help you enjoy these next few months of precipitation.

I should clarify that I'm in Yangon, Myanmar, where we get 2500 mm rain per year as opposed to Bangkok's 1500 mm. Furthermore, all our rain comes in this half of the year. They are connected, but Thailand has a rainy season; Myanmar gets the monsoon.

Bring an umbrella

This may seem like obvious advice, but during the monsoon, you can't look out of the window to predict the weather. It can go from cloudless and sunny to torrential downpour in a matter of minutes. From now until November, bring a brolly every day.

The brolly ratio

You should just resign yourself to the fact that you're going to lose 5 to 10 umbrellas over the course of the rainy season. Don't be upset when it happens. I do wonder what the taxi drivers do with all those umbrellas that get accidentally left in their cabs.

I have discovered a principle regarding losing an umbrella. The higher the value and quality of the umbrella, the more likely you are to forget it somewhere. The ten-dollar, big, wide umbrellas with lights in the handles are the most likely to be left behind in the taxi. The cheap, defective, mass-produced, 3-dollar jobbies will stick with you for the entire season.

Buy cheap brollies because you're going to lose them, and the cheaper they are, the less likely they'll disappear.

The right shoes

This depends upon where you work, but the rainy season should mean changing your footwear. Leather? Forgettaboutit. No leather. Ideally, you can wear flip flops made from rubber or plastic.

Nothing is more waterproof than our own skin. I got a pair of nice dress shoes that look like leather but they're made from PVC. That's what you need. 

Get wet

There are some folk that get worried about getting wet. Stressed out. They run through the rain. They let the weather dictate their daily routine. Look, as I said above, human beings are waterproof. We get wet and it's not a problem.

Develop a sense of awe

For me personally, I grew up on the west coast of the USA. We get rain, but we don't get thunder and lightning. I love experiencing it now.

From the distant thunder when you get a bright flash of lightning and then a loud rumble several seconds later to the instantaneous explosion when you look out the window to see if a nearby building has been hit, the tropical storm is one of the most exciting parts of living here.

Don't grouse about it. Enjoy it.

I also have a YouTube page with lots more stuff about the teaching lifestyle in Myanmar


I miss the storms of Thailand (although we get some gooduns here in Italy too!).
My old apartment in Thailand was on the top floor of my building (which was already one of the taller buildings in town). The view stretched for miles and the windows stretched from floor to ceiling. I used to love sitting on my balcony or laying in bed at night with the curtains open, watching the lighting and bracing for the deafening thunder cracks!

By Jey, Italy (8th September 2017)

Tropical thunderstorms are the pinnacle of my trips to SEA. I sometimes stand on my balcony at 4am looking into the darkness and listening to the rain. The smell of rain and sound of breaking thunder are very soothing to me. It is the best meditation I have ever experienced by far. As for not getting wet, there is a very important trick; you should not let the raindrops hit your soul.

By ChangNaam, Lost Wages (8th June 2017)

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