Despite local marketing campaigns pitching Phuket 'summer' specials, Phuket like the rest of Thailand has only three recognised seasons: cool, hot and wet. The return of heavy scattered thunderstorms, and even a flash flood, this week made sure islanders and visitors knew exactly which season has just arrived.
The downpours also saw the undergrowth take on the green seen in travel brochures and brought on the usual spikes in humidity, catching newcomers off guard. This is island life, from now through October, when the pace of life takes a slower turn.
The seasonal slowdown each year brings a broad range of responses. Many business owners unprepared for the 'dry season of customers' let anyone within earshot know 'how bad it is this year'. For many others, this regular complaint is no different than fearful cries that the sky is falling.
But for many old timers in Phuket, it is a time to relax a little and catch your breath after the hectic high season. Many could take a leaf out of the decades-old practice of Patong bar owners who at this time of year take the time to catch up with old friends across town, who they cannot see for half a year simply because they are busy.
In other ways, small business owners, managerial staff and plain old expat workers at this time of year seize the opportunity to finally enjoy where they live. Many foreigners in Phuket work harder here in Asia than they would at home, inculcating an element of the Asian work ethic, which presumes you are what your business card says you are – no matter where you are or what time of day it is.
The Phuket News urges all islanders – and visitors – to savour this rainy season. The drought this year has reminded us that the water from the heavens is a blessing. Enjoy this time, take the chance to go and experience what people from around the world save up all year to come here and do.
But also remember that the dangerous surf along the west coast also returns this time of year, dragging unsuspecting swimmers to their deaths. Don’t be fooled by a clear sky. The deadly undertow of the rip currents at the beaches is not forgiving. Be safe.