When it Hujans, it Pours

Pantai Bira Fisherman in the Rain
Motorcycle Food Stall in Bajawa

A motorcyclist with a portable food stall speeds by, armed with an umbrella.

I had never heard a racket like it before. I opened the hotel door expecting to see 1,000 teenage boys drunk on whiskey and high on espresso banging snare drums. Instead, I saw the most intense rainstorm I’d ever seen. We were in the mountain town of Bajawa in Indonesia, and we were getting our first taste of the rainy season. At that moment, I learned that in Indonesia, when it hujans, it really pours.

Every roof in Bajawa is made of tin, and the obese raindrops were causing a head-pounding banging. Anyone trying to sleep off a hangover was no doubt in hell. It was raining like a vengeful god was trying to wash away all the sinners into the ocean. So, I did what any normal person would do: I grabbed my camera and headed into the deluge. 

Boys on a bike

Boys venturing out in Bajawa after the heaviest part of the rain.

I found an awning where I could stay dry and see the street, but I quickly realized that nearly every business had shuttered its doors and the streets were empty save a few frolicking kids. It was reminiscent of a blizzard that paralyzes a city. Although it was 3pm, it was nearly dark. The streets turned into a rushing river, lightning strikes set off car alarms. I made a mental note to never store our bags on top of a minibus again, and to make sure and take my rain jacket everywhere.

Luckily we never got caught in one of the near daily afternoon deluges and our plans were never altered. At our last destination in Pantai Bira in south Sulawesi, the rain was actually a welcome distraction. The sleepy beach town where we were staying was, in a word, boring. Watching the ebb and flow of fisherman heading out to fish or returning for the day was the most exciting thing to do, until the rains came.

In Bira, the locals were seemingly unfazed by the rain. Fishermen took to the sea in flimsy boats, heading into the teeth of menacing rain storms. Men lashed down their gear and tended to their chores as if it were a sunny day. But just to be on the safe side, they were building arks just in case the rains didn’t subside. I felt safe knowing I could commandeer one of the boats in case of an apocalyptic rain storm.

Boat Building Pantai Bira

Locals prepare arks to escape the flooding.

Indonesia Rainy Season Photos

Click on any photo to open a slideshow view.

Related Post: When it Rained (Africa Far and Wide)

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20 Comments on “When it Hujans, it Pours

  1. Jeff your photography skills without question are superb. Often though it is your clever narrative that really grabs me This phrase ‘expecting to see 1,000 teenage boys drunk on whiskey and high on espresso banging snare drums’ is one I admit I feel envy over. Brilliant. 🙂

  2. Hi Jeff, thank you for posting these images – I don’t know what it is about them but they really do make me feel as if I stood there in the rain too. They remind me of some heavy rain we saw in Saigon, and I imagine that it was a similar kind of rain.

    • I am glad that you like the photos and can relate. It rained like the world was ending! I am glad that I got to experience it. Thank you for commenting.

  3. As Indonesian, I find it very amusing and fascinating (well, I hope it’s the right word haha) to read this post and see your photos. 😀 It’s rainy season right now and you describe it very well, it is pouring, like pouring from a bucket-full of water.

      • I’ve just been wondering how could you take a shoot while it rained that way. Well done with those nice pictures! 😉

  4. The tin umbrella is my favorite!! I have experienced some torrential down pours and there is nothing like it, so fun unless you need to get somewhere!

  5. As usual I really enjoyed the humour in this one – It made me chuckle when you mentioned the “ark-building” on Bira Beach. Bama and I were just in Bali and this reminds me so much of the heavy rainstorms we saw there.

    As we were having dinner on the beach one night (thankfully under a tent), it rained so hard that little creeks began to form. Despite the waiters’ efforts to dig a moat, another group had to move and eat their desserts standing up because the area around their table was pretty flooded!

    • James, It is amazing how much water falls in such a short time. I’ve experienced some major downpours in my native Oklahoma but nothing like this. I can just see the waiters in Bali digging a moat and scrambling to deal with the rain. In Bajawa everyone just closed the doors!

  6. Pingback: Behind the Scenes at Planet Bell | Planet Bell

  7. Pingback: From Bajawa to Riung: The Longest 45 Mile Bus Ride on Earth | Planet Bell

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