Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wet Weekend in Singapore

I am very fortunate in that I live in a low rainfall part of the country - Cambridgeshire. I am also fortunate that my house is in a part of town which is safe from flooding. The news reports of the past couple of days featuring the terrible floods (terrible by British standards, though not so by Bangladeshi) further help to emphasize how lucky I am. We have a river, the Ouse, and it floods quite frequently. Thankfully, there are ample flood meadows for it to expand into where I live, but in other areas close by, like St Ives and Earith, flooding can be severe.
When I was a young airman serving a "torturous" two year tour in Singapore, I experienced my first real flood. We had a party one night (must have been Friday - we weren't at work for the next couple of days) in town at "The Dutch Club". I still have a photograph of myself at this party wearing a cream jacket and looking like I was "one over the eight". When we went to the party, everything was normal. Then it started to rain. We partied on, but the rain got steadily heavier, and then torrential - and didn't stop for several hours. When we tried to leave the club in the early hours of the morning, we didn't step down into the street as the street was now a river. The RAF sent out trucks to rescue us, as that was the only way any of us were going to get anywhere, unless we took up residence at the Dutch Club - or swam. I decided to take up a friend's offer of going back with him and his wife to their flat, rather than returning to my barrack room. As we slowly made our way along the river-road peering out of the back of the truck, I was amused to see an old man walking along up to his waist in water and holding an umbrella over his head!
My weekend at my friend's flat was, needless to say a lot more enjoyable, and comfortable than if I'd gone back to barracks. There was no chance of him being flooded out, as he lived in a 15th storey flat in an 18 storey tower. Thankfully, the flood drainage ditches did their job, and soon the floods turned to wet roads which steamed in the hot sun. It was time to go. I got a pick-up taxi back to camp, grateful for my friend's hospitality.

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