08 December 2006

Typhoon Durian

What were they thinking, naming a typhoon after the most vile-smelling fruit known to man: Durian? (think ‘skunk’ x 1000) What did they expect would happen? Had they named it Typhoon Peach, or Typhoon Plum, or even Typhoon Banana, I am sure it would not have turned into the monster it was. Definitely a Self-Fulfilling Typhoon Prophecy.

Watching CNN, I’d observed its steady path through the Pacific, into the Philippines, and then on towards Vietnam. Living in Ho Chi Minh City, one does not usually have to worry about typhoons. (Which, by the way, are called hurricanes on the other side of the world.) I was told that they never hit the city.
Central Vietnam is another story. They take the brunt of storms that roll in off the Pacific and there is often major destruction and loss of life, much of it from flooding.

Monday morning I noticed how lovely the weather was; on the cooler side, with this great, fairly strong breeze. And then I started hearing that this pleasant weather was from the typhoon, which was due to possibly hit HCMC later that day. Oh. We even got an email at work advising to evacuate low-lying areas and keep or passports close at hand.

I live on the 7th floor, and really doubt these buildings are hurricane proof, as there is no need to build them for that. I kept close watch of the news and saw that the storm had been down-graded to a Tropical Storm, so stopped worrying about being blown over. Obviously, flooding would not affect me.

I made sure that everything was off my balcony so as to avoid a clogged drain and rain water seepage into my apartment. Still, I saw no sign of storm clouds, though the mild, windy conditions continued. But it did not feel right. The birds were not out, no bats cruised by my windows at dusk, and I didn’t even need to close the screens as it seemed all the flying insects had holed up somewhere.

I went to bed after 10:00, bolting all the windows and mapping out where to sit in my apartment should windows start breaking. And then nothing. At 4am the rain started but it never got strong. It continued for several hours and stopped. I found out later that at the time we were getting mild rain, the typhoon was trashing costal areas about 100 kilometers from HCMC.

The weather may have been fine, but my students were not. Everyone was slightly spaced out, not doing their work, and not really able to concentrate. Typhoon fever, I suppose. I talked with other teachers and it was the same in all the classes. Usually my classes fly by, but not that day. It felt like I had been teaching for ten hours.

I cannot add “typhoon” to my list of adventures, and I’m good with that.