How I survived a typhoon living abroad

How I survived a typhoon living abroad

I’m gonna preface this entry with the following statement: I have never been through an actual hurricane, so I may not be the best authority to turn in the face of a storm. Scratch that. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m the absolute worst authority on what to do in a storm. During the two (not really, because we were in the Northeast) hurricanes that I did experience in person, I was not the picture of Hurricane-preparedness. I either ignored all warnings to stay indoors (bad idea), opting to go on Hurricane walks through the deserted New Haven streets (how else would I get pizza??) or I decided to drive 20 minutes to the nearest movie theater (on an abandoned highway, although that may have been during a snow storm).

Chang-nom was my first typhoon, which is the Pacific Ocean term for Hurricane. One of the neatest takeaways from the experience was actually tracking the storm on the radar map, because for as much as it feels that I live in China every day (the unmarked white van full of men snapping photos of me this morning being a prime example of this country), I rarely wonder where exactly I am in the world. It had already been raining the entire month of June, and July really, so this weekend’s storm, aside from the gusting winds didn’t actually seem out of the ordinary. I spent most of it indoors, like I have been spending the majority of my time, partially because the humidity is borderline unbearable during these months. Seeing the streets of Shanghai nearly deserted, since everyone seemed to have heeded the warning, was sort of beautiful in its own way. Yes, despite all warnings against it, I did go out to run errands, partially out of cabin fever, partially to avoid the lines at China Mobile, and partially because a dear friend was leaving (actually hoping and praying that her plane wouldn’t get delayed since she, well she didn’t quite like China) and we couldn’t let her go without a proper good-bye.

My survival tips for surviving a Hurricane are, as follows;
  1. Make sure you get enough water. Seems like this would be obvious, but in China, things like staying hydrated are a bit harder. We can’t drink the tap water, and  as a result are constantly dehydrated. I bought three giant jugs of Nongfu spring and went through two of them in two days.
  2. Read a book. Everyone is indoors trying (and failing) to get onto Netflix, so the Internet probably doesn’t work.
  3. Don’t go outside.. unless you want Hong Kong Milk Tea.
  4. Find some ways to keep your feet dry.. because you probably left your rain boots back home. I brought so few shoes with me to China because shoes are heavy and they take up a lot of luggage space. My rain boots were the first casualty. During my walk, my shoes got entirely soaked through, but as a result, I stopped avoiding puddles and boldly waded through them.
  5. Find some ways to commiserate with people who are outside. It’s easy to complain about a hurricane as you sit comfortably on the couch, wiping Doritos grease off your fingers, but there were countless people who actually had to work through the storm in unconditioned, cramped Shanghai stalls. It was nice sharing those moment of misery, with grouchy complains about the wind (风很多!) or about the state of the weather in general (今天的天气这么糟糕!!)
  6. Call mom. “Yes, mom, I’m alive. No, mom, the hurricane isn’t that bad. No, I won’t die while abroad. Yes, I love you. I’ll call if I’m floating on a raft down the street. Yes, I have enough water. No, please don’t fly to Shanghai to save me. Okay, I love you too. Bye!”


2 thoughts on “How I survived a typhoon living abroad”

  • I remember when I went to HK for the first time, the highest typhoon alert (T10) was announced, first time since 1999. I actually remember that night quite pleasantly – even though we lost one day in Singapore (part of out honeymoon, all flights were either extremely delayed or cancelled the next day) because my MIL and SIL were asleep, I woke up Sing, we listened to a tiny radio that put Beyond songs all night long mixed up with typhoon warnings. I’m weird.

    • Whoops, totally missed this! There is something a little romantic about surviving a storm together with someone, isn’t it? I hope you guys were able to get to the rest of your honeymoon alright though!

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