Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Floods in Hanoi

Today it rained. It was bucketing down and I had the enjoyable experience of being caught in my first flood. I left my house, suit and all, with a full length raincoat hoping that would get me to work relatively dry. I waved to my neighbour who was standing at the entrance to her garage pushing excess water away from her house and into the drain. By the time I had reached the main road I realised today's rain was different to others.

There were big puddles covering the road just outside my house. Once I got to lower ground I saw that this might not be the easiest ride into work. It was windy and the rain was coming down strong. As I rode between the two lakes, West Lake and Truc Bach, large parts of the road were covered in water. Soon after police were diverting traffic away from flooded areas. The road passing Uncle Ho's resting place was covered in water. Most motorbikes were not taking the road so I followed the masses along another road. The next intersection was covered in water, only a small section of black road was visible. I turned left driving through water. At the next intersection, a large one, people seemed to be hesitant on which road to take. Many had stopped on the footpaths. I tried a few roads but they were all covered at some point with a decent amount of water. I was now driving in some pretty deep, for my experience anyway, brown water, unable to see the road.

By now many bikes had died; disheartened souls pushing them through the water. Realising that water was getting close to my exhaust I wanted out. I did not want to be pushing my bike anywhere. I tried to ride up on the footpath but I couldn't see what was under me. I hit cement with a thud. Frustrated, I stepped into the water and turned my bike. I drove along to the nearest cafe and was directed by a young guy on where to ride.

Wet but relived I sat in the cafe and had a coffee. I watched the rain come down for the next hour. I called work and said I wouldn't be in for a while but figured none of my students would be either. The water levels rose and I watched as determined riders and cars negotiated the streets below. After the rain stopped I decided to make a go for it and get to work in time for my next class. I rolled up my suit pants to my knees and rode off. I was not far from work when I hit a traffic jam; about 30cm deep in water. Any past attempts of keeping my Italian leather shoes relatively dry seemed futile. I gave up trying and proceeded to creep through the water with my feet covered in water. I finally made it, after some pretty close calls with deep sections of water.

The water levels slowly dropped and by lunch time it was pretty much back to normal in our area. My shoes were soaked so I had to spend the rest of the day teaching bare foot. The kids thought this was rather funny.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera but check out this website for a few photos:

Flood Photos from local Vietnamese website

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