As we come to the close of April, I thought I would post a monthly summary, starting this month, of what the weather was like.
I did keep a week by week record on my phone over the last few years, but unfortunately all the "notes" on my phone got deleted when they upgraded the software on it recently.
Most of Thailand, and Chiang Rai is no exception, has a fairly defined climate and it's usually possible to predict the change in the seasons, sometimes almost to the day.
For example, April. The Songkran celebration usually marks the change in the weather from fairly hot to baking hot!
All of April is hot, but by the 20th it is very hot, but thankfully Chiang Rai has the lowest humidity in Thailand. Mornings are pleasantly warm (cool even) and the heat builds during the day to a peak about 2pm and the evenings stay hot.
If you like swimming (as I do), the water is pleasant for most of April and superb from about the 20th.
We do get the occasional tropical storm, I think there were 3 this year of which one caused damage to about 2,000 houses in Chiang Rai. They generally happen about 6pm, almost hurricane force winds and driving rain, but thankfully, all over in an hour or so, just leaving floors wet as it comes through the closed doors/windows. On the whole, April this year was very dry. So dry in fact that there is a water shortage in many places and the Kok river is almost dry. The local hill tribe village here ran out of water 3 weeks ago and they needed to lower the pipe in their lake, I supplied water to them for 3 days from my lake. The waterfall near my home is still falling, though it's no longer gushing, but thankfully, it keeps the swimming pool at it's base topped up.
Most of April has a pleasant breeze. If you're lucky, it's a cool refreshing breeze. If you're not so lucky (in town for example), it's a hot breeze superheated by all the tarmac and roof tiles.
I like the hot weather, and April has been the most pleasant month for me yet this year. I am not an air-conditioning freak, I like to read in bed at 80° F, 27° C and sleep at 82° F, 28° C and I definitely need A/C in April, before I turn on the A/C the temperature is 31.5° C.
There is a less pleasant aspect to April, and it's when the farmers burn their fields and this creates a haze. This year was infinitely better than last year but as I look around from the top of the mountain where I live, I can see nearly 20 miles and there are still three spirals of smoke to be seen.
For me, the hardest job I have in April, is keeping the swimming pool water clean. We live 800 metres from a poor hill tribe village of 270 people. The children come home from boarding school from mid March to mid May. Over the age of 8, they have to board (think, sleep on the floor of their classrom at a school 30 miles away). The village comes alive for these 8 weeks and my house becomes the center of village life for the kids, typically 4 or 5 surfing the internet in the Sala (there is no internet or phone lines in the village) and 30 or more in the swimming pool and keeping the water clean is really hard work. Sometimes I have to run the pump 24 hours a day, and I even had to superchlorinate the water to kill the bacteria once when the electric salt-water chlorinator couldn't generate chlorine fast enough. Also, we get the ash from the burning fields come down and sink to the bottom of the pool, requiring vacuuming every day. I test the water quality two or three times a day, adjusting calcium chloride, sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, Cyanuric Acid, Hydrochloric Acid and Borax almost every day and I generally manage to keep it within the ideal range, except that one day requiring super-chlorination.
Actually, I am reminded of a funny story. When I built this house for my daughter last year, I employed Sing (now our guide) to interpret with the builders as he spoke perfect English and my Thai is passable but not business level by any means.
He made the builder stop building for 2 days in February. The villagers barricade the only road in/out of the village and nobody is allowed to come or go, except on foot until sunset. They sit around the barricade drinking locally distilled moonshine and playing cards. The Mien Hill Tribe believe that on these 2 days there is a dragon sleeping somewhere nearby and if it is woken up by loud noise it will blow the roof off your house in April. Sing assured me that at least one household in the village had lost their roof to the April winds (breath of the dragon) because they had been noisy on these days. I asked him which was more important, (a) that we stop building on these two days, or (b) double the amount of steel and screws in the roof. He answered (a) which he honestly believes. Needless to say, I did both! (a) to keep the villagers happy and (b) for my peace of mind. Having experienced an 8 metre aluminum sliding window, bowing in 2 inches in the wind, I was frightened and expected to lose it. Thankfully not this year any way.
So in summary. April was almost completely dry with only three short tropical evening storms and very hot with only a little haze.
Roll on May!