Weather or not, it’s time to go
When you are overheated or frozen stiff, what joy to consider a holiday of the other extreme
THE year has started with tremendous shifts in extreme weather down under, from scorching temperatures and horrid bushfires to floods and winds of sufficient force to carry off dogs and cats and untethered banana lounges to kingdom come.
On Sydney’s extraordinary 47C day, the sand at our beach was too hot to stand on, so we made a towel highway leading from the car park to the water. We ran along it, not worried about drying off after a dip — the searing air took care of that. A mirage effect (refraction of light, perhaps, and a hovering sea mist) caused a ‘‘waterfall’’ to form on the horizon, which captivated all but this summer’s resident pod of dolphins, which just cavorted merrily, like synchronised swimmers.
My Paris friend Fanny-Marie has sent me pictures of her skating the streets of Montmartre while my older son has had snow drifting on to his apartment balcony in Nagoya, Japan. The images cooled me off and made me think about ‘‘weather tourism’’, another of the industry’s increasingly naff marketing tags for specialinterest tourism. But when you are overheated or frozen stiff, what joy to consider a holiday of the other extreme.
Storm tourism is all the go in exposed climes, such as the west coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island — nothing between there and Japan but the roaring Pacific Ocean — where the lovely Wickaninnish Inn near Tofino has special wet-themed holiday packages from November to February (protective gear and wellies provided).
There has been an unlikely surge in monsoon tourism in southern Thailand and the subcontinent. Tourists typically come from sun-punished lands, such as the Middle East, to revel in the rain and wield unaccustomed brollies and even sit by pools in plastic capes and shower caps.
These souls should be armed with Alexander Frater’s book Chasing the Monsoon (1991), which celebrates the annual progress of India’s life-giving rains; he travels among monsoon pilgrims who hail the dumping sky with religious fervour, wailing in ecstasy.