The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology

The ‘right’ season for travelling

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Sudden downpour in Angkor Wat

The Chinese coastal city of Qingdao is famous not only for its beer, but also its beaches.

The imaginatively-named No. 1 Bathing Beach, for instance, is touted as the No. 1 beach in Asia (pleasant enough but definitely not number 1).

The problem was, we visited the city in early Spring, and the temperature was definitely not condusive for lazing around on the beach or taking a dip in the presumably chilly waters.

And walking to the city’s famed Zhanqiao Pier, which juts out into the sea, wasn’t a pleasure either, as we were faced with strong winds and an incessant drizzle.

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology

So even though the seafood in Qingdao was lovely, I didn’t like the city.

But maybe, just maybe, I would have a better impression of the city if I had gone in better weather.

After all, my friends who visited Qingdao liked the place.

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Sumptuous seafood in Qingdao

So should we be checking the weather charts before we plan our vacations?

I think it’s kinda important, especially if you want to avoid certain weather conditions.

For me, the rainy season is a no-no.

The last thing I want is to be trapped indoors or have to hold an umbrella or wear a raincoat when I go out.

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Typhoon season in Manila (yes, that’s me running in the picture)
The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Flooding in downtown Bangkok during the rainy season

I don’t like hot weather either, but I’d take it over the rains anytime.

But more than just avoiding certain weather conditions, checking the weather also helps ensure that you can see the city in its best light.

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Cherry blossoms in Kitakyushu, Japan

For instance, people flock to Japan to see its famed cherry blossoms in Spring.

And there are certain highlights which are absolutely dependent on the seasons.

Like Harbin’s Ice Festival.

I had visited Harbin before, in early Summer, and I thought the city was a little boring.

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Church of St Sophia, Harbin

My friend and I were there for three days.

But after we had visited the Church of St Sophia, seen the many Russian buildings and witnessed tigers tearing live chickens apart at the Siberian Tiger Park, we were left scratching our heads over what to do.

And on our last day in the city, we decided to sing karaoke because we were that bored.

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Harbin Siberian Tiger Park

But in Winter, the entire city comes alive.

The main pedestrian street, Zhongyang Dajie, was filled with people despite the minus-20 degree chill.

And the frozen Songhua River was abuzz with activities – from ice slides to dog sleds and horse-riding.

There were even people swimming in a pool which has been carved out of the river!

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Performances along Zhongyang Dajie, Harbin
The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Winter swimming on the Songhua River, Harbin

But of course the highlight remains the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, which astounds with its size and scale.

There were amazing fairy tale palaces and towering pagodas all carved out of ice.

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Ice and Snow World, Harbin
The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Fair, Harbin

Not checking the weather before you book your flights could also be to your detriment.

My ex-boss went hiking in Nepal a month before I arrived, and she told me about the heavy rains and leeches.

But when I went there, the weather was nice and clear.

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Dhaulagiri range, Nepal

Each morning, as we started our hikes, we had fantastic views of the Himalayas.

Watching the sunrise from Poon Hill, in particular, was unforgettable as we had stupendous views of the mighty Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Ranges with peaks over 8000m high.

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Watching the sunrise from Poon Hill

But unfortunately, those unobstructed views only lasted till around midday for us on every day of our trek, as after which, the skies would cloud over.

Our guide told us that climate change was the culprit, as the November skies were supposed to remain clear.

Climate change, however, is beyond the scope of this article.

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
View of the Dhaulagiri Range in Nepal

So do you normally check the seasons before you book your flights?

Or do you not mind taking your chances?

The 'right' season for travelling - Alvinology
Heavy downpour in Tagbilaran, the Philippines
1 comment
  1. Oh yes, I would definitely check the weather before I travel. I hate the rainy season – I have been stuck in Bangkok during the worst of the floods (and have been stunned at the way the life carries on for the locals, walking around on the sandbags). I remember doing Portugal in the rainy season where it rained every single day I was there – that was not nice. Then going to Tunisia in September when I thought I had escaped the worst of the summer heat but the temperature still exceeded 40 degrees in the desert. But sometimes you just have to take your chances – I remember nervously visiting Sri Lanka at the end of the rainy season thinking that it could go either way. Yes it did rain some days but otherwise it was okay. It was not like I encountered floods there. Likewise, I remember visiting Croatia during their coldest winter in living memory with heavy snow and it got as low as -30 but it was absolutely delightful as I was well prepared for the weather.

    I remember last summer when I was in Greece, it was crazy hot – like 36 degrees and then suddenly, it clouded over and there was this torrential downpour. I had actually packed an umbrella with me (kiasu spirit) but that morning I thought, it was baking hot, it never occurred to me to bring the umbrella with me. And then when the skies opened, I thought, aaargh, what am I going to do? I was out sightseeing and my umbrella was in my luggage, in the hotel room. I ended spending 6 euros on a tacky plastic raincoat from the gift shop as the rain was just hammering it down.

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