Having escaped the Queensland floods just in time, we find that the weather here has been weird and crazy.
The monsoon finished and left ...
and then came back.
No longer ocean and island views from our window. The tourism business in the islands is suffering because normally this is their big time for crowds to come and pay to go snorkelling.
The people in the little villages all around are used to rain - but not this time of the year. The traditional little wooden houses are always built up on stumps. Even so, apparently this situation hasn't arisen for some 22 years, and some people have had to be evacuated.
The longest rain
It has been raining heavily - tropical storms with pounding rain that makes it hard to hold a conversation - off and on for several weeks. And then the other night it just didn't let up all night. In the morning we got into our little (rented) Proton Saga and headed off to work in the dark and the pouring rain. It was different from usual - there were no motorbikes. And the windscreen wipers at their pathetic fastest barely managed to make a clear spot to see through. Quite a few times on the way the road was under water, everyone ploughing through it and throwing up great spouts of water. Occasionally someone on the other side of the road would chuck a wave right over the car, creating a moment of total loss of vision.
We got to work safely.
And went to park where we usually do. Ok, so there was a bit of water over the road! We sat in the car wondering how to climb out without removing shoes etc ... Other cars were driving along the driveway behind us, and their waves started bumping up under our car. Slowly the car started to shift sideways ...
So we moved away and headed up to the other end of the campus looking for some higher ground - although then we would have to wade back to our office. At one point it felt like we drove over something crunchy, but impossible to tell under the water. But later when we went to get back into our car we found we had a flat tyre - the tyre had started to come right off the rim. We found a couple of local boys who were glad of a few ringgit ($) to change our wheel despite the rain, and took the broken wheel to a garage. When they removed the tyre from the rim, gallons of water splooshed out!
Our work visas are being "worked on", but we are very close to the end of our 'social visa', and don't want to risk being in the country illegally. The solution is usually a 'border run'.
Back up to Kota Bharu and then to the Thai border, a walk across the bridge into Thailand, a stamp in the passport, and then back across. It's what many people do. We thought it might even make an interesting little adventure for us and Lloyd.
But then there is the rain.
We've been hearing about drownings and mudslides in southern Thailand, and the river that marks the border is in flood ...
We decided we would just have to try, and we took the day off from work especially. It rained again most of the night, and in the morning it was still drizzling and not looking hopeful.
But then ...
I remembered: there is a building that we drive past every day, and can see clearly from our building -
- the big one in the middle - which has a funny name: Wisma Persekutuan. Being a curious fellow I looked up the 'p' word and found that it means 'immigration'.
So we grabbed our umbrellas and marched over there, and applied for visa extensions. It cost us no more than the petrol to Thailand and back (the visa in Thailand is free), and it only took a couple of hours.
Why didn't we just do that in the first place? - no one told us you could.