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This year, Thailand's "Green Season" has been extremely severe.  Watching television reports of entire villages being swept away by raging flood waters or of train derailments caused by mudslides has become almost a nightly occurrance.  The northern provinces have been particularly hard hit with much loss of life in the areas south of Chiang Mai, surrounding Sukothai, and even as close as Chumphon in peninsular Thailand.  And, just in the past couple of weeks, the monsoons have been drenching Phuket with a vengeance.

The start of the full-day torrential downpours coincided with the start of my TEFL course.  That first week saw Tim and I caught in the rain on the motorbike numerous times.  The worst was actually the day I needed to visit the Immigration Office — despite wearing a windbreaker, rain poncho, and a garbage bag covering my pantlegs and nice shoes I still arrived in Patong soaked to the bone (giving the Immigration officials a good chuckle).

This past week, we were given a reprieve of sorts with several days of mostly sunny skies.  There was one day in particular, however, that the skies let loose just as we were in the homestretch to the language school; as we rode parallel to Karon Beach, I could see the squall out to sea and once the line of rain passed an offshore freighter I urged Tim to quicken our pace.  We managed to round the last bend into Patong and were approximately 50 yards from the school when it began pouring.  I considered myself lucky as I only got a "little bit" drenched; Mark from England was extremely soaked once he arrived.

Another lucky bit last week was that it was fairly bright and sunny during our days off; we did manage to waste most of last weekend lounging around the house (except for Saturday) but at least the sun was shining.  I didn't mind that at all.

But today was just plain frustrating.  I'd had planned to get many things done including opening a Thai bank account (can be a long process), getting my Thai driver's licence (can be a frustrating process), picking up a few packages at the post office, and shopping for teaching supplies and new clothes.  But all of those plans were put on hold by a long day of heavy rain.  We also experienced off-and-on electrical and phone outages so I couldn't even accomplish much on the computer.  Very frustrating...

By three o'clock, we were both going stir-crazy so we decided to venture out to the post office covered in our 20-baht rain ponchos (Tim's has developed several large holes in the sides).  It stopped raining just as we left our soi, although the surrounding mountains remained covered in ominous-looking clouds.  It was too late to make it out to the bank (most branches close down at three) but we managed to salvage our shopping expedition.  It really is a long trip up Chaofa West Road to the various hypermarts (our choice of the day was Tesco-Lotus), especially when the skies were as threatening as this afternoon.  The drive isn't made any more fun by the terrible mess the endless road-widening project has created (many potholes are so large they could swallow a tuk-tuk without any problem).  Because of all of the rain, the packed-earth road surface has become a washboard worse that the highway leading to New Mexico's Chaco Canyon (one of the worst national parkway roads in the southwest United States).  Today, there was something new: —a portion of the highway had a brand new "river" flowing across it, overflow from the nearby hills.

Generally, I love the rain.  I lived for the previous twelve years before moving to Thailand in a part of the States that usually had 350 days of sunshine per year.  Because of a long-term drought, very few rivers there had any water in them.  Before deciding to come to Phuket, I came very close to moving to Portland, Oregon — partly because of the amount of moisture that city receives.  But enough, already.  There is such a thing as too much.  Not only are we constantly trying to dry off but it's also been downright cold.  I don't really like to complain but, darnit, if I wanted to get completely wet I'd rather just swim in the ocean than drive underwater on the motorbike.

Sorry for the rant.  Goodnight, Phuket.