Thursday, September 29, 2011

Typhoon Nesat

When we filled the school enrollment forms for the boys, one of the questions we had to respond to was what we wanted to do with them when the typhoon 8 signal was hoisted. Not knowing what that meant, we did some research and learned about the Hong Kong tropical cyclone warning signal system. Typhoons are a big deal here in part due to the fact that much of Hong Kong rests on granite. Top this off with dense population and development, and you have a recipe for disaster. The high winds have the potential to do tremendous damage to physical structures (although that potential has diminished with the advent of modern construction and typhoon building regulations), while intricate canal and drainage systems have been developed to handle the risk of flash flooding that comes with the heavy rains.

At the time, it seemed a very remote possibility that we would have to deal with such a situation, but as it turns out, today signal 8 was lifted for typhoon Nesat.

Luckily, this occurred before the boys went to school, so we didn’t have to rush to school to pick them up or wait anxiously for the bus to drop them off. Having already promised the boys a day off from school (due to some home-sickness), this turned out to be fortunate timing in terms of not getting behind on school work. However, it also turned out to be somewhat of a drag as pretty much everything was closed for the day, including the Space Museum which we had planned to visit.

After a morning movie, we decided that we needed to get out of the house – we were going a bit stir crazy and we had almost no food – so we headed down to Tuen Mun. Castle Peak Road, a major thoroughfare that runs past the university, was eerily quiet, with few cars, taxis or buses to be found. Some bus routes were not running (including our favorite the 46), but luckily, we found a line that ran down to town. The drive down revealed mostly shuttered store fronts and strangely deserted streets.

Upon entering the mall, we found people out and about, but few stores open – probably due to the fact that most people saw today as a serendipitous day off from work.

After some lunch, we decided since the weather wasn’t too bad (an on and off light drizzle with temperatures in the low 80s), we’d walk home. Quin requested a stop in the Tuen Mun market to see the fish; while we were in there, the skies opened. Rain was pouring down, and the wind was blowing it almost sideways. We had umbrellas, but they were fairly useless at this point. Rain ran down the sidewalks in streams and rivers, so thick in some places that there was no way to walk anywhere without going ankle deep in the deluge. Luckily, we were able to walk under covered walkways (which offered only minimal defense from the rain) to catch the light rail.

From the light rail stop to home though, we were out in the open, with only a few flimsy umbrellas for protection. The boys decided to make a break for it, sans umbrellas, half way home; they weren’t much wetter than Doug and I by the time we all got home. In the end then, we survived our first typhoon, wetter and wiser. As another typhoon is brewing, we’ll be sure to stock up on food and movies to ride out the next signal 8, should it occur.


  1. At least it was a warm rain, right? The quiet street was such a contrast to what we have come to expect there! The smiles on the boys faces looked like they were enjoying themselves! And as usual you made the best of it. Nice cats.

  2. So glad that at least you are safe and did not get hit too bad! Reminds me of when we were in Atlanta during a severe ice storm--the 3 folks from Cleveland were the only fools out that nite-and NOTHING was open-was hard to find food!