Local Heart, Global Soul

January 21, 2018

A Trench To Go With Your Trench Coat…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,SINGAPORE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Tropical places are nothing like the stereotypical desert island where the sands are dry and there are palm trees waving over the golden beaches.

Places located close to the equator often have high rainfall and tropical rainforest conditions.

My parents lived in the Solomon Islands for almost six years.

The Solomons are located north of Australia and slightly east of Papua New Guinea.

Just after arriving my father told me that: “it doesn’t rain cats and dogs here, it rains swimming pools”. When I visited I found a deep trench all around the house and a tiny bit of guttering on the roof, directly over the door.

The funny thing about that was that apart from this one metre stretch, there was no guttering anywhere else on the building. I asked if they just hadn’t finished putting up the rest and he laughed. Apparently it rained so hard there that there was simply no point, gutters and downpipes would be overwhelmed so fast that the result would be exactly the same: water rushing off the roof like a fountain. The small piece of guttering over the door was simply to make a “smaller” waterfall for you to have the duck through. They did later add guttering to the rest of the roof, but only to try and redirect some of it into a very large rainwater tank because their own supply was unreliable.

The tank was big enough that my dad would drain it periodically, climb in to scrub out the insides and then all he had to do was wait for the next rain and it would full up to the top in less than an hour.
The chute that connected the roof to the tank could be redirected so that the water would go over the garden and down the hill once the tank was full, he said that in a decent rain shower he could even rinse the tank before filling it again. I saw this type of rain in the Solomons, in Sao Tome and in Singapore: if you have never experienced it in person it’s hard to imagine so much rain falling out of the sky at one moment, it’s like a continuous cloudburst, but it’s just “normal” rain for these places.

We are in Singapore this time when it’s not really the rainy season, but I know that normal Dutch-style drains would never be able to cope with the volumes of rain, so like many countries in the tropics, Singapore has some serious solutions to it’s serious amount of rain. Drains could be more described as “trenches” and whilst many are hidden under numerous street gates, these by the highway are exposed. Taking photographs from the back of a moving taxi is tricky at best but I managed to get some shots of some of these drains. Many walkways, paths, taxi and bus halts are covered to protect people from the torrential rains but in Singapore you need a trench to go with your trench-coat.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 23, 2012

Louver Windows and the Connection to Ditches…

Filed under: LIFE,MALAYSIA,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is probably another post where you think I’m bonkers. (Actually I’m sometimes surprised you don’t think that of all of my posts LOL).

My parents lived for a while in the Solomon Islands and when I first went to visit them I was surprised to see what appeared to be a dry moat around their house, complete with a small bridge by the front door.

It looked  like a rather lethal affair too,  and uncovered open pit about one meter deep and about half a meter wide and with the addition of a little barbed wire might have been passed off as a miniature  World War One trench.

Then I noticed something funny with their roof… there was a deep overhang on the roof, so the eaves were very pronounced.  My Mother laughed… “You’ll  ‘get it” later” she said, and Yes, as soon as it rained I surely did.

Tropical rain doesn’t rain cats and dogs, it rains swimming pools and this not-so-little moat was their overflow drain for rain water. And over-flow it did… until I saw it fill and over flow within fifteen minutes or so,  I never could have imagined that so much water could pour out of the sky and flood the earth at once.

My parents  had a rainwater tank for their water supply, it was massive: big enough that my Father could climb inside to scrub the inside walls several times a year, and one day just after he’s scrubbed it,  it started to rain very heavily so he put the diversion pipe on, (from the roof to the tank) filled it completely during the downpour, then took the diversion pipe away, totally emptied the tank  and then with the tank now rinsed but the pipe back and filled it completely again from the water coming off the roof… all  in the same downpour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

He said he got soaked to the skin doing it, but  that wasn’t a bother because it was still roughly 36 C (98.6 F) anyway.

On the long side of the house that usually caught the small breezes they installed a row of floor to ceiling louver windows .

These ran for some meters along the hallway and with insect netting on the outside, gave a good airflow in the house in the typically hot and humid climate.

You could close one or two meters of louver windows at a time by pulling down on long handles at various  points along the hallway and I discovered just how heavy tropical rain can be one day when the skies opened and we were all outside.

I was fastest to sprint inside and try and get all the windows closed… but the driving rain was almost horizontal and so much rain was coming in whilst I was trying to close them that in spite of my haste I was standing in ankle deep puddles of flood water on the floor.

In the kitchen more windows were open and the entire kitchen floor was flooded and the stove top was full of water. There was actually so much water on the stove that the elements were drowning in water and we didn’t dare use them until the electrics dried out for fear of electrocuting ourselves.

It’s therefore with some nostalgia that I spy large rainwater ditches by the side of the road in Malaysia, memories of the Solomons come back in an instant and I’m reminded that whilst we are enjoying a lovely sunny day today, it’s green and lush around here for a very good reason.

I suppose that during a decent cloudburst here or a tropic storm that there must be small rivers of water flowing in these drains.  We didn’t see it today, but in my minds eye I’m transported back to the day when I was standing up to my ankles in water inside my parents hallway in floods caused by a tropical rainstorm.

Yes, I am bonkers.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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