It’s now rainy season here in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as you may also know it) we have 2 seasons; extremely hot and dry or extremely hot and wet.
Rainy season itself is pretty spectacular. Super dramatic ear skull-splitting thunder, every type of lightning, with only a few seconds between each hit, rain so heavy it’s like being pummeled by millions of wet golf balls, not forgetting the daily flash flooding.You might think that things would grind to a halt, people would retreat to the safety of their homes and wait it out, but no, not here, everyone just pulls over at the slightest spit of precipitation, puts on their poncho and carries on as normal, albeit slower, in the 3 foot (or so) of water like it’s not even a thing.
So it’s the run-up to the rainy season where the difficulties arise, the humidity can get up into the ’90s, and the pressure whilst you are waiting for the storms to arrive can leave you exhausted, with excruciating pounding headaches, but that’s not the worst of it, not really…maybe the worst thing about this is the total and utter destruction it causes to your appearance.
It’s a hidden adversary, you are unable to see or understand the damage it is likely to cause until you are right in the thick of it and it’s too late to do anything.
It will systematically take apart every single inch of your appearance and turn you into a soggy mass of misery unless you are prepared and that is why I am here.
To help you to avoid this hidden antagonist, to give you the tools you need to fight back.
Are you sitting comfortably because I shall begin…
Let’s start with hair, I used to work with a guy who would joke that he could tell if it was going to rain or not by the state of my hair. I am a naturally curly hair owner so different levels of humidity can have varying effects from the good to the truly horrific. when I left the hotel I had curls, 30 seconds of waiting for a taxi and I now have a huge mass of Sideshow Bob going on, which I could style out with my afro comb of course, if I had one… Or, as I was prepared, I have emergency product stashed somewhere safe… you could also wear a nice hat — you must forward plan in times of extreme humidity!
Yeah YOUR face. If you want the dewy look — this is your moment to shine. Literally, like someone has dunked your face into a vat of oil. I did have makeup on and unbeknown to me (until arriving at my destination) it had become a smeary affair dappled with some remaining traces of blusher, which had slid across my face sideways.
I suggest minimal. Go minimal, anything that is a stain will survive, waterproof mascara always, because it’s practical, and you might need to shed a tear and such like.
Face blotters are amazing, they do exactly what they say on the packet. THEY BLOT YOUR SWEATY SOGGY FACE. Awesome, carry these always.
Wearing any clothing that can show sweat is a definite nono, because even if you don’t sweat, upon stepping outside you become immediately veiled in a mist of pollution from head to toe, meaning you are now wet.
If you are wearing anything light in colour you have failed so hard because not only will it start to go transparent, but this humidity is actually filthy so then you get gross tide marks everywhere.
There was an excellent example of this sort of faux pas from a man waiting for a taxi in front of me wearing what I would imagine from the sleeves was a pale blue shirt, only the back was sort of a soggy darker soaking wet shade of pale blue *vom*.
Don’t wear tight clothes — are you mad? Do you really want that sticky, sweaty, filth attached to your skin? Don’t wear smart clothes, suits — what?
Be PRACTICAL PEOPLE!!
Style out that casual look, it’s ok!
NB. This does not give you carte blanche to break out your Aztec harem pants, we are not in Bali, and shorts can be a really bad idea sadly — see below — MOSQUITOS.
Sports luxe is de rigueur anyway, so use it, destroy it, this is the clothing choice for winning at humidity. #winning #sportsluxe #athleisure #fuckyouhumidity
There are mosquitos everywhere. Making even simple tasks more complicated. (again forward planning) Going to the toilet requires industrial-strength mosquito repellant, a swotter, bravery and cunning to escape unscathed, because let’s face it being savaged by mosquitos is not a pretty sight.
I found out a few years back that if you know there is a/some mosquito/s in a room all is not lost, no need to suffer in silence. Go in unload a fuck tonne of repellant, and I mean a FUCK TONNE, then turn off the light (you don’t want to attract any more) and shut the door. When you return you will find the nasty little pests, and you will find them DEAD on the floor. (or if you have some very resilient ones, dying, so unload some more poison and close the door again) Brutal yes I know, but bites are unsightly, and this is all for vanity’s sake.
Always carry an umbrella, and pray that soon there will be rain. Here it is generally raining, or humid, so as it’s humid, chances are there will soon be rain.
If you don’t like being hot, then you’re fucked.
I am joking, well kind of. Get an atomiser spray, and wait for your friends to totally rip the piss out of you, but then whilst their hot sweaty faces are mocking you, you can spritz yourself with the water spray that you oh so cleverly kept in the fridge so it’s ice-cold, and do the ‘fuck you I win’ dance whist you are spritzing.
Water that you can spray onto your face… Does nothing that it says except cools you down a bit
Flip flops, pool slides, or shoes that won’t be destroyed by constant moisture, and won’t rub your hot swollen sweaty feet. Even your most comfy shoes will have a tendency to rub in these conditions. NB: Great for breaking in new shoes if you can bare it though esp. converse etc.
Don’t wear socks — are you stupid — seriously — NO SOCKS!
Wet wipes, always, just because. Tissues always, just because.
A large cotton scarf and or some sort of jacket/cardigan — ideally cotton/linen/something natural that won’t make you sweat even more.
Why? You know why, this is a hot country, so this means anywhere inside will be air-conditioned to sub-zero temperatures. They asked me why I didn’t have the air con on in the sample room. I explained that it wasn’t that hot and it was ok. They replied ‘but you are from England, it’s cold there’ erm…
Yeah. Anyway, I digress, I have a nice big cotton madras check scarf (well actually it’s a loincloth I got in the airport in Chennai/Madras because I didn’t have time to get an actual proper scarf, but that’s between us) and it’s a lifesaver it has been a blanket, scarf, comforter and most importantly excellent disguise. I would highly recommend everyone carrying a giant cotton loincloth (scarf) it will save you in many different situations and surely rescue you from fashion disaster.
Other essentials I would suggest are more personal, but notably a fan of some sort, a phone to call for help, and if all else fails a passport to get you out of dodge.
For more invaluable advice about dressing yourself properly in hot places check out part one: https://thelittlesthobo.me/2021/01/10/how-to-dress-yourself-in-a-hot-country-2/