Thailand is a hot country. Not all tropical areas are hot. You might be at the equator, but if you are high enough in the mountains, the weather can be very pleasant. But closer to sea level, it can get mighty hot in the tropics.
This year we have unusually hot weather in Thailand in May. Thais don’t bake their food, so there are hardly any ovens in Thailand, but these days just being outside feels like being in an oven. The sun is cooking you mercilessly. That is no big deal if you live in an airconditioned house and drive an airconditioned car. But airconditioning is far from being standard equipment in Thai homes, and small motorbikes are the transportation of choice, or rather necessity, for many millions of Thais.
For the last few days I have been hiding in my airconditioned office in Chiang Mai and only venturing out after 8pm when the temperatures were more tolerable. The rains are slow in coming this year, but today we had a heavy downpour, even if only for about 10 minutes. That managed to drop the temperature down by 15 or 20 degrees fahrenheit (for about half an hour), but it also managed to knock out the electricity in my neighborhood.
With the after-rain temperatures creeping up again rapidly, and without airconditioning or even a fan, I had no choice but to leave my house . I got on my motorbike and did some shopping. When I returned about one hour later, there was still no electricity and my home felt like a sauna. So I had to escape again and this time I went to the biggest mall in town where I treated myself to a Thai massage.
Finally in late afternoon I checked on my home again, and this time the electricity had been restored. Rainstorms knock out the power around my neighborhood fairly regularly. I would say that just by looking at the wiring, this is not too surprising.
The Thais are all complaining about the heat, but life has to go on, and there is nothing that can be done about it anyway. The street vendors and market sellers and small shop owners are all sweltering, but they still smile and – like all of us – wait for the rainy season to start.
The rainy season in northern Thailand begins some time in May and ends in October. It does not rain every day and hardly ever all day long. This is really a good time of the year. The clouds keep the temperature down to pleasant levels, and the rain cleans the air and keeps the pollution at bay in the city. Everything is green and lush, the ground water levels are being replenished, and the waterfalls are spectacular.
Nothing is perfect in life. Right now we are suffering from extreme temperatures in the hot season, and the rainy season causes flooding every year in some areas. But when the rains ends we get to enjoy the dry and cooler winter season with warm day time temperatures and pleasantly cool nights. This period from November to February is also the time of many spectacular festivals in Thailand.
There are only three seasons in Thailand:
1. The winter season from November to February which is cooler (not cold by any means!) and dry. This is the main tourist and festival season with the best climate of the year.
2. The hot and dry season from February to May. There is no spring and the cooler season changes into the hot season within a couple of weeks. Especially in the north of Thailand the hot season also coincides with agricultural burning and extreme air pullution due to smoke. This is a time best avoided in Thailand unless you spend it at the beach.
3. The rainy season from May to October. I love the rainy season. During this time of the year there is a great variety of wonderful tropical fruits available at very low prices. Nature comes alive with intense colors and flowers, traffic is less due to the absence of tourists, and the air smells fresh and clean.
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