It rains a lot in southern China. Most of that rain falls during the monsoon season from April to September. This can be a little annoying if you’re traveling around China during the summer and you enjoy doing anything other than sitting in your hotel room.
It can also wreak havoc on transportation in rural areas. When the downpours get heavy enough, they can bring transportation to a halt in even the biggest cities.
Notice how traffic in both directions is trying to use the same lane in that photo? This kind of thing happens a lot in China. The river in the image is actually meant only for traffic flowing in one direction; traffic heading the opposite way has three lanes of its own on the other side of that little hedge. This bus—and about 20 cars and buses behind him—should be on that other side, but they thought this side had better driving conditions, so they simply switched over.
It didn’t even cross their minds that there might be cars on this side of the road that were also trying to get somewhere. The result: the all-too-common standoff between cars heading in opposite directions. Naturally, neither side will ever back down and put their car in reverse.
In this instance, there were obviously two empty lanes and while the water was much deeper in those lanes, a few drivers soon lost patience and gave the deeper water a try. Others quickly followed and the standoff was over. They don’t always end so quickly. More on that in a future post.
Flooded streets inconvenience anyone driving (or walking, if they need to cross any of those flooded streets), but they can be beneficial to people with the right kind of job. When I lived in Shenzhen, I worked for the city government teaching English at a vocational school. We got the day off anytime there was a heavy downpour. The roads didn’t even have to flood—a storm warning was sufficient. During the rainy season, these occurred about once a month.
It might sound like I got a lot of extra holidays, but I’ll let you guess which two days of the week saw most of the rain and which five days tended to be bright and sunny. If you need a hint, all the photos in this post were taken on a Saturday.
I’m not complaining, though. In total, I got two days off due to bad weather during my time in the city and two days is better than none. Plus, no matter what day of the week the streets flooded, I was able to step out on my balcony and enjoy my new-found waterfront views.
Here’s a video I shot (poorly) that shows just how swiftly the flood waters were moving: