Market people watching in the mornings, I occasional hang out at Nu Nu Nini’s Coffee Time a corner cafe opposite the outside market of the famous daily Chiang Mai Market by the south gate of the moat at Chiang Mai Gate. The outside morning market selling clothes is all packed up before the day starts to get really hot and humid. So by 10.30am it’s empty. So I sit there and just watch people getting on with life. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it’s sunny but mainly it’s overcast.
Rainy monsoon season in Cambodia can be the best time to visit. The countryside become lush and green and loses the brown dusty look it has in the dry season. The monsoon season usually starts May through to November. This year 2016 it was late and a drought set in. Many villages were without water and NGO’s started to supply daily bottled water until the rains began.
The rains announce themselves by producing strong winds and swirling tornadoes of dust forming, fast moving clouds form in the angry grey sky and then a single drop of rain before the torrents. No time to get indoors.
Most foreign tourists think of Goa as a beach holiday just to relax and soak up the sun and do little else. The sunbathing season is only for a few months, and then the tourists disappear as the humidity builds in May waiting for the Monsoon to break.
Maybe we should learn from the Indian out-of-state tourists, who choose to visit Goa in monsoon. Firstly, it’s much cooler and certainly less busy. The locals are tired after their long hot season and have less energy to over quote tourist prices when they see a white face. They’re certainly more interested in getting to know you. Visits inland to see the nature reserves and land changes, plus time along the beach coves to watch the storms throwing up massive waves and spray, can only lead to an appreciation of this enchanting season.
Monsoon is breathtaking, seeing the rain bounce off where ever it lands. The rain drops are huge and come down at a great speed, in sheets, making visibility difficult. The landscape changes almost over night from dry and dusty to lush and green. Every plant suddenly awakens from a long slumber and uses the time to grow and flower and pollinate. Colours become more vibrant and if they had voices they would shout at you to capture your attention. The air smells of newness. The cattle get fat and healthier on the new grass. The farmers get busy planting rice in the paddy fields and water is collected so it’s available all year round.
Watching the rain is hypnotic as it dances off the leaves and flowers. Listening to the rain is therapeutic as the pitch changes depending on the speed of it and what it hits. The temperature remains warm and it’s even OK to get wet as this becomes part of the monsoon experience. There becomes a growing dampness in the air, as there becomes fewer and fewer breaks between the rain falls.
There are days of constant rain from misty rain the torrential rain. It can be so heavy that in only a few seconds you’re wet completely. There is a warning before it starts, but you need to be quick. Suddenly the jungle will come alive moving and swaying violently, with a growing wooshing sound which builds and builds forming into a crescendo which is the wind announcing a change is coming. Then there’ll be a few big drops, a hint of a hesitation, and in the next moment, the ground will be covered with flowing water as it rushes to find the nearest drain, which cannot cope with such heavy downfalls. When the rain stops and the sun reappears the ground steams and dries out. In no time at all the rain is forgotten.
Being in Goa during this season was a new experience for me and I would encourage anyone who loves to travel to explore and discover new things to make a visit in monsoon. Rain in the UK is dreary and grey and generally has a gloomy affect on people. Here it’s uplifting, it’s a time for growth, it’s warm, it’s refreshing, it’s what nature does best… it evolves. Whether you’re inland or by the coast monsoon will grab you and thrill you.
I’ve moved to Goa and the contrasts between here and Jaipur, Rajasthan are great. Firstly the weather has changed from a 40°c+ dry temperature to mid 30s feeling like 10 degrees hotter because of humidity. The landscape is green and lush rather than dusty and arid. Dogs are pets here or monkey alerts. Monkeys here have more respect and don’t venture into houses or steal clothes hanging out to dry. I see regularly butterflies, dragonflies, geckos, dragon type lizards, ants, red ones, yellow ones, black ones, small, medium and giant ones which come out at night, flying beetles, snakes, spiders, frogs, pigs, buffalo, cattle, and lots more.
The people move much slower probably due to the zap of energy because of the mugginess of the air. Western clothes are more noticeable, less traditional, more jeans and t shirt. Facial and body shapes are completely different. In the north in general people are really thin. Catwalk models look fat in comparison. Goa was colonised for centuries by the Portuguese so with intermarriage and the presence of slaves, people here often have a mixture of European or African features merged with Indian. It’s still rare however to see a tall Indian . I’m 5’3″ and most people are my height or shorter. Some women here have huge stomachs apparently because of the quantity of rice consumed and fondly called ‘rice bellies’. They also cut their hair so it’s quite common to see short styles. Plus they allow themselves to go grey gracefully rather than use harsh black dye or turn orange if they used henna as happens in the north.
Daily life here revolves round religion, Hindus and Catholics seem to follow feasts and festivals around the agricultural calendar. Portuguese Jesuits moved into Goa in the 16th century and were fanatical about converting the Indian ‘heathens’. The local area suffered greatly under the inquisition and destroyed most of the Hindu temples. Even so the Indians still managed to hold onto many of their beliefs and merge them into the new faith. Today’s churches are crowded on Sunday Mass and some even full for Mass on weekdays. When a Catholic dies they are buried in a maintained cemetery. When a Hindu died the tradition is to burn the body.
Local people have Portuguese surnames and many have also adopted European first names.
The Portuguese enjoyed 451 years of colonisation and only as recently as 1961 were they forced out. Goa finally became a fully fledged state of India in 1987.
The Goan people are not intrusive and appear to be sincere and genuine when they speak with me. They are used to Western faces and never stare. Daily as I pass people walking to the village center they always greet me and share pleasantries. However there’s a big influx of outer state people moving to Goa to earn money. These people are in your face and hassle you or they just stare. The Goans are unhappy with this influx as it has brought crime, and violence along whereas before the Goans lived fairly safe lives and didn’t even lock their front doors.
The local language is Konkani which sounds so much nicer than the direct aggressive tone of Hindi. However most people here speak English and not Indian English. The kids are taught once they go to school. The kids here, even as young as 6/7, can easily have a conversation with me. In fact most of the kids speak more English than their local tongue.
Now is the time that houses are preparing for the 4 months of monsoon. Roofs are being checked, plastic tarpaulins are being erected everywhere, plus huge plastic sheets to cover verandas, and wrought iron windows with no glass, gardens are being viciously pruned, furniture being brought indoors, and lots more.