That is the name of the tropical storm that I was stranded in on monday night. Mindulle. I thought I was going to drown and the weather system responsible had been given the gayest name ever. We had flown to the southern island of Hainan for some beach based R & R, and after a late night flight found ourselves sipping beer on a lovely strip of sand with the waves gently caressing the shore. This was still night time though. The next morning it was apparent that the sun wasn’t going to shine and we should have packed some umbrellas. Most of the day was spent playing pool in a sports bar before the clouds did temporarily subside and we hit the beach in earnest. Then the storm returned. Eating a mass of finely barbecued meat in a Brazilian restaurant (thank you Edmundo the Brazilian pool-shark for your directions) I realised the weather was getting a little more serious when the waitresses barricaded the door shut with sand-bags and employed one girl just to lean against it until they could fasten the thing shut with some wood. Fairly ‘relaxed’ after our day’s worth of beer we decided not to worry and hit a club. At 3 am I decided to head home. I had lost my friends and seriously needed a lie down. Things looked bad from the outset of my journey as there were no taxis braving what had now become a Day After Tomorrow scenario. The streets were rivers and it was proper multi-directional Forrest Gump rain. Branches from palm trees threw themselves down the road. I was obviously well prepared for such conditions in a shirt, shorts and flip-flops. My first move was to find an umbrella that had blown down the road and head off into the abyss. “I’m just going outside and may be some time.” etc. I then convinced a woman driving a motorbike and side-car to take me home. This was ill-fated. Huddled in the tightest foetal position imaginable with the umbrella pressed to my face, we ploughed through knee-deep rapids as I screamed for mercy. The waves washed up to my waist but at least we were moving. Then the bike broke down. I had to leave the poor woman attempting to restart her bike in a reservoir as she at least had a waterproof jacket on and I was literally drowning. Running to the nearest open hotel I sprinted into the lobby and discovered too late that wet flip-flops and polished marble flooring don’t mix. Stacking it in front of reception with a full-on Mr Bean-horizontal-in-mid-air affair I then languished around on the floor like a dying mackerel until the porter helped me up. Needless to say I couldn’t stay at this particular hotel as it was a five-star job and way beyond my funds. The journey continued with a morbid walk down the street, now bare-foot until a security guard for another hotel took pity on me and let me hang out in his office while he phoned for help. Amazingly, the woman who ran our hotel turned up on a moped (only once the storm had subsided might I add) and drove me home. Rather embarrassingly I was only about 300 metres from my intended destination and had woken the poor lady up at 5am to take my sodden arse home.
Apart from that Hainan was pretty good. Sanya, the city where we stayed was grubby and noisy as expected and after the storm all the resorts resembled the one in The Life Aquatic where they rescue Jeff Goldblum. However, we ate ridiculously well (no Chinese food in sight I might add), drank good cheap beer and I even managed to get sunburnt the next day, despite lying in some shade under a cloud-filled sky. That wonderful albino Scot genealogy.
One last note, never take an internal flight in China. You are almost guaranteed a delay of an undetermined length. They claim they have 70% punctuality. This is 100% bullshit.
One last, last note, always check bottles of juice from street vendors. A coke I bought the other day was coated in melted coolant that I didn’t see as it was night-time. When I got indoors everyone noticed that the coolant had drizzled all over my t-shirt and shorts leaving rather suspect white stains everywhere. I was then nick-named Robo-Jizz by my flat-mate.