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Umbrella or Raincoat? Eh eh eh? – Thai Rainy Season advice

Every year during rainy season the old poem by lyrical genius Rihanna seems to proven true: “Now that it’s raining more than ever..” she then follows up this metaphorical observation with some very smart advice that only the wisest of the wise could think about: “Stand under my umbrella…”.

Umbrella, eh eh eh eh?

But the question apparently nobody ever asked this famous poet with apparent Canadian heritage is: “Really?”. Now while an umbrella certainly is a better metaphor for a song about a relationship in distress is it really the best choice to protect oneself from rain during rainy season? Especially in Thailand? Let’s have a look!

Alternative: Getting Wet

So what’s the alternative to standing under an umbrella and inadvertently starting to hum this song? Well, the obvious choice would: Just get wet. While we might not always pick that option back home all year long it is a normal choice during the summer when rain sets and is simply considered as a nice refreshment.

The thing however is: Rain in Thailand is different. It’s not that super nice and refreshing, it’s dirty. There’s a reason why Thais don’t like to get wet and why many people say ‘rain makes you sick’. It does. Not only because of the ‘get wet, cool down, get sick’ cycle but also because rain is dirty and not only soaks you but also exposes you to lots of sickening stuff that you normally wouldn’t want to have on your skin.

So getting wet. Doesn’t work!

Alternative: Raincoat

So ok. Getting wet doesn’t really do the trick since you don’t wanna get sick all the time. But it’s still not cool to carry this freaking umbrella with you all the time, right? So what else could we do? Something that serial killers and psychopaths in small suburban towns usually do: Wearing raincoats. While the way those psychopaths act is certainly not in our interest one has to admit that those crazy bastards usually look pretty dry (until they get killed by the hero). So why not wear a raincoat?

Good point. So if you actually have one of those yellow super huge raincoats with hoodie and stuff…then good on you. Throw in the matching yellow boots and you’re all set. But who walks around like that? Especially in Bangkok when you’re on the way to work or on the way home from work?

The alternative would be one of those cheap 7-11 (or family mart, no preferences here) plastic raincoats that you can just easily pull out and over (pulling out is safe anyways. what who said that?). The positive thing here is that those raincoats come at around 40 THB and are quite small – at first. Once you used them it’s a pain in the ass to get them all deflated and back to their initial small size again without actually ripping them apart. Moreover they come in ‘free size’ which means one size for all so if you’re one of those tall bastards, bad luck. It will only protect you to your waist and elbows.

But even if it fits you there’s another negative aspect that you need to consider: SWEAT. I talked about sweat before so just in short: It’s freaking humid here and when you cover yourself in something what essentially is similar to a big plastic bag you can imagine how much of ventilation is transpiring (ha!). Exactly. None. So you won’t get wet from the rain but you’re going to sweat like you’re in a sauna and this is probably not in the inventor’s mind. Unless, well, our favorite postmodern poet sweats with us. But even then the advice is: Take off those ungodly plastic coats.

Besides those coats there’s obviously also the possibility of buying a real ‘rain jacket’. Some real outdoor gear that people wear for hikes up Mount Everest and stuff. That’s obviously a decent idea since those things are built to cover you from rain while still giving your body the ability to function and breath even under tough circumstances. Downside here however: Those things are freaking expensive + do you really want to carry an extra jacket around all day?

Therefore, raincoats:

Umbrella ella ella

So was the all mighty and wise goddess of poetry right after all? Is the only chance to cover yourself an annoying piece of plastic that you have to carry around?

Well. Yes.

And that comes from someone who HATES umbrellas. I never owned a single umbrella back home and fought the first few years the rainy season all by myself without actually buying one. But at some point one has to admit that waiting under cover for rainstorms to pass or getting soaked is just not a viable option anymore. Ever since I own an umbrella I waste less time waiting and feel more free and less stressed when rain sets in. Even though it still doesn’t look cool.

When it comes to umbrellas, similar to rain coats, there are obviously different variations that one can choose from.

There’s the cheap one from Family Mart (or 7-11, again, no preferences) that comes at around 250 – 290 THB. It’s quite small, telescope style and has a handling appropriate to its price. Meaning as soon as the rain is accompanied by a slight storm you’ll have trouble keeping the umbrella in place. Also, when you wear a backpack, the umbrella probably won’t cover the both of you so you gotta choose whether you have to stay dry or the laptop in your backpack.

Then there are those big ass (ha! get it? shout out if you do, then we gotta talk!) umbrellas which are obviously good to stay dry but a pain in the ass to carry around and also a pain to handle while walking on those small ass (no, no reference) sidewalks in Sukhumvit or elsewhere.

Hence I do recommend (now I should have an affiliate link to an Umbrella manufacturer in here – if you are such a business, shout out :P) telescope umbrellas from a better quality than those cheap ass (ass is a really nice word, you can combine it with anything. Does Rihanna know?) ones that I mentioned above. You can easily put them in your bag and just take them out when needed. Public transport and malls usually provide free umbrella plastic bags at the entrance so that when you enter a building after using your umbrella your stuff (and theirs) won’t get all wet. So that’s no need for concern. So: Get an Umbrella.


How do you stay dry during rainy season?

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at My-Thai.org
Sascha is the publisher of my-thai.org and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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