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 Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

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.

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