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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Surviving Typhoons 101

Relish the Power

Damn, nature is powerful. You can't fight it, as much as you try. You can choose to lock yourself away, but why would you? Dance in the rain, run with the winds. It's life - live it!

Choose Your Weapons Wisely

I love watching what others choose to wear and carry during monsoon/typhoon season. Rainboots are big here in South Korea, preferably high-end brands that cost $100 plus. They're often worn with the skimpiest of shorts or mini skirts (Korean gals, in general, have great legs). I prefer flip-flops/jandals/thongs - when the rain is really heavy, boots tend to fill up rather than protect. I keep a change of shoes at work.

Almost everyone carries an umbrella, which can be awkward in crowded places, and are not always useful in the high winds that come with most heavy rains. The streets after a storm are a dead umbrella graveyard.

Long skirts/dresses/pants are not advisable for traveling in. If your work dress code warrants them, you're better to wear shorts and carry dry clothes with you. Or leave a change at work. Pretend you're Don Draper.

Think of Others

When I lived in Jakarta, I always felt guilty for loving storms. More accurately, for having the luxury of being able to love storms. Looking out on the havoc wrought by nature while sipping coffee or even going out to experience the elements isn't quite the same when you know you have a safe haven, dry clothing and (most of the time) warm water at home. Every downpour in Jakarta meant flooding for shantytowns, many of which  are built on the side of waterways, and deaths were inevitable.

As of this morning, there has been only one casualty from Typhoon Khanun, an 83-year-old woman who died when part of her house collapsed.

I worry about those with nowhere to go. When I work nights, I walk through Myeongdong, in downtown Seoul, to catch a bus through Namsan Tunnel 3 to home. The forecourt of the Korea Exchange Bank headquarters, opposite my office building, doubles as the sleeping place for a number of the city's homeless, and I wonder where they go in these weather conditions. There's also a homeless man who lives in the subway underground near my home who I try to look after intermittently. I'll look to see if he's there tonight and needs warm food or perhaps some dry blankets.

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