I’ve blogged about the hot season in Thailand before (You Can’t Beat the Heat) and how enervating and life sucking the 40 degree C (104 F) can be. This year hasn’t been that bad, even with the 6 weeks of smog. But if every hot season is going to be this hot (and smoggy) then I’ll have to go to somewhere cooler and clearer during March, April and May to escape this scorching Chiang Mai retirement.

But this year we had family visiting and other guests (I keep telling them not to come in April but no one listens to me.) so we needed to stay around.

Before we retired to Thailand we lived in Seattle Washington; a wonderful place which we miss greatly. One thing we don’t miss though is the long winter season when the sun rises (rarely since it is almost always cloudy and rainy) at about 10am and sets about 3pm. Each year we would suffer depressions caused by the lack of sunlight called Seasonally Affective Disorders, or SAD for short.

There is also a different kind of SAD.  Here in Thailand, SAD is caused by too much sunlight (and the heat that comes with it). Next year maybe we will just go and rent a place for a month or so down in Krabi or Trang, somewhere near the water and a cool sea breeze. I hope to be writing about it, so stay tuned next April.

But there are a few things that have helped me get through this SAD season here in Chiang Mai. These include the colors, tastes, and sounds that all come to us during this hottest part of the year. And since I am completely SADdened right now and too enervated to write much this month, I thought I would share some of the wonders of the Thai hot season, in picture form, that help me make it through the day.

(All the pictures of flowers were taken today in and around our garden. The pictures of fruits are from the end of last year’s hot season. Click on the pictures to enlarge.)

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Colors (the flowers in our garden)

Summer in Thailand is the time for trees to flower. We have planted lots of flowering trees in our garden, along with fruit trees and flowering plants. We have tried to have something blooming at all times of the year, but the hot season is the most colorful..

The Intonin Tree (not sure of the English name) with Doi Suthep in the background.

The Intonin Tree (not sure of the English name) with Doi Suthep in the background.

 

The Golden Showers trees, blooming all over Chiang Mai at this time. In Thai it is called Rajapreuk (The Royal Flora Tree).

The Golden Showers trees, blooming all over Chiang Mai at this time. In Thai it is called Rajapreuk (The Royal Flora Tree).

 

A Flame Tree, called Peacock Tail tree in Thai.

A Flame Tree, called Peacock Tail tree in Thai.

A rare Golden Flame Tree.

A rare Golden Flame Tree.

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Hibiscus grow to great size in Thailand. This one is 6 ins across.

Hibiscus grow to great size in Thailand. This one is 6 ins across.

A Giant Lotus bloom.

A Giant Lotus bloom.

 

A Lotus flower. We grow them in pots. Tried planting them in the stream near our house but the Apple Snails (Cheery Snails in Thai) ate them all.

A Lotus flower. We grow them in pots. Tried planting them in the stream near our house but the Apple Snails (Cheery Snails in Thai) ate them all.

Heliconia, of which we have a half dozen varieties.

Heliconia, of which we have a half dozen varieties. Thais call them Bird Flowers.

Our blooming Bougainvilleas.

Our blooming Bougainvilleas.

 

Plumeria, or Frangipani. In Thai it has the lyrical sounding name of Lilawadee. All the flowers and leaves fall off and then at this season they come back in all their glory.

Plumeria, or Frangipani. In Thai it has the lyrical sounding name of Lilawadee. All the flowers and leaves fall off and then at this season they come back in all their glory.

 

Frangipani come in many colors, from white, to yellow, to pink, to bright red like this one. To transplant on just cut off a branch and stick it in the ground, and you'll have a new tree.

Frangipani come in many colors, from white, to yellow, to pink, to bright red like this one. To transplant one just cut off a branch and stick it in the ground, and you’ll have a new tree.

 

My son Darin is visiting and took these flower pictures. The heat here doesn't bother him as much as it does us since it is still cold back home.

My son Darin is visiting and took these flower pictures in our garden. The heat here doesn’t bother him as much as it does us since he is here running away from the cold back home.

 

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Tastes (the hot season fruits)

Luckily for fruit lovers, Thai fruits ripen at all different times throughout the year. Summer has lots of Mangoes, and then come the fragrant Durian and the heavenly Mangosteens. We don’t have the last two in our garden since they don’t grow well here in the north, but we have lots of Mangoes.

There are at least 50 varieties of Mangoes in Thailand. We have over 15 growing in our garden.

There are at least 50 varieties of Mangoes in Thailand. We have over 15 growing in our garden.

 

More Mangoes.

More Mangoes.

 

The increasingly popular  R2 E2 Mango, each weighing about 1 kilo.and delicious.

The increasingly popular R2 E2 Mango, each weighing about 1 kilo, and delicious.

 

Lots of Papayas in our garden.

Lots of Papayas in our garden.

 

Jack Fruit, Bananas, and one Cashew fruit (with the nut still hanging off the end. Our largest Jack Fruit was 14 kilos. This one about 5 kilos.

The sweet and fragrant Jackfruit (we have planted 18 of these fast-growing trees), Bananas, and one Cashew fruit (with the nut still hanging off the end). Our largest Jack Fruit was 14 kilos. This is a small one weighing only about 5 kilos, but still bigger than my head.

 

These are platanes which need to be cooked first. We have about 10 different kinds of bananas in our garden.

These are platanes, our biggest bananas. They need to be cooked first. We have about 10 different kinds of bananas in our garden. The smallest are called The Lady’s Fingernails.

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Sounds (of the stifling nights)

At this time of year the calls of mating birds and other animals can be heard at night, even with all the windows closed. They sing me to sleep even better than the white noise of the air conditioner. The ones I like best are the ones that are onomatopoetically named (in Thai).

They include the “Boot Bird” (Thai: Nok-a-boot, English: Greater Coucal), that calls “boot boot boot” all night. Then there is the “Gawow Bird” (Thai: Nok-gawow, English: Koel). And of course they say “ga-wow ga-wow, ga-wow” over and over again. They seem to disappear for a while and return during the hottest part of the year. The “Gwak Bird” (Thai: Nok-gwak, English: White Breasted Water Hen) is a yearlong resident. And you can hear them calling “gwak gwak gwak” at all hours, day or night. And the best sounding name is that for the “Kawear-wear-wet Bird” (Thai: Nok-a-wearwearwet, English: Lapwind) that goes “ka-wear-ka-wear-ka-wet”.

But my favorite sound comes not from a bird but from a lizard. It’s the infamous call of the Tokay Gecko (Tokay in Thai too). What does he say? “tokay tokay tokay” , up to around 7 times in a row, and very loudly. Just in case you have never heard one, here is what one sounds like. They seem to disappear for a while and then come back at this time looking for a mate. There is a story that if you hear it call 8 times in a row you will disappear (I made that one up myself.) I have only heard up to 7.

Our resident Tokay Gecko, caught hanging out under a towel in the bathroom.

Our resident Tokay Gecko, caught hanging out under a towel in the bathroom. He’s been quiet until the hottest part of the year.

After listening to these guys you tell me if the Thai onomonopia correctly depicts their sounds.

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And then there are the sounds and sights coming from my TV right now. Really, how could one complain about the weather when Game of Thrones is back on the air, with Araya sticking Needle into some bad guy, and Kaleesi looking more queen-like and beautiful with every episode, especially with her dragons? I wish Sansa would wash that black dye off and get her gorgeous red hair back.  And if they would leave just a few of my favorite characters alive at the end of the season; I would like that.

But who’s complaining. I hear a bit of thunder behind Doi Suthep as I write this. We just may have survived the hot season for one more year. Godspeed the coming rainy season.

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