I will admit, of all the seasons in Shanghai rainy season is my least favorite. I have this thing about being damp. Even if it’s hot outside, if I’m damp, I’m miserable. I used to love rain. I used to frolic like a graceful newborn lamb (that’s right) outside in the afternoon rain when I was younger loving every moment of it - twirling around, singing songs; just like a hipster movie you were forced into seeing by a girlfriend who insists it’s as good as that movie where the little girl with no dancing talent dances around at the pageant in a school girl costume. You know that movie right? I’m too lazy to Google it. Let’s just call it the 2 hours of my life that I’ll never get back movie.
Now that I’m an adult I still like the rain…mostly when I’m not in it. And I’ll only brave the rain in certain circumstances:
1. When I have the driver
2. When I NEED a manicure - you know, when you get to that point where you’re like: “UGH this cannot go on for one more day!” *begrudgingly takes out umbrella*
3. When there is no food - but hardly cause that is what Kate & Kimi was designed for!
But the reality of the matter is that Shanghai has this ugly time of year where if it’s not rainy, it’s muggy, and when it’s not muggy, it’s pouring, and when it’s not pouring, it’s humid, and then sometimes it’s all of those things in the span of 10 minutes.
My first experience of monsoon season was on a day when I got it in my head that I HAD to pick up my new jeans from the fabric market in Puxi. I was at that point in my postpartum life where it was finally time to pack away the stretchy pants and put on real people pants (that is only until I could fit into yoga pants again…which I wear all the time. Ah, yoga pants, the skinny people’s maternity pants). But of course real people pants in my size don’t actually exist in Shanghai which meant I was trying my hand at custom jeans. That day it was pouring sheets of rain. I never actually knew what that meant until that day.
I remember my driver was driving under a highway and we drove through what can only be described as a giant waterfall. I had never seen that much water coming down in my life. I remember he pulled up to the fabric market, opened the door and laughed as I stared at the space between myself and the door. A mere 20 meters seemed like a giant football field that was being flooded by the days of Noah’s Ark. He also laughed at the fact that I sighed very loudly when I realized I didn’t have anything resembling an umbrella. But, you see, I really needed those pants - so I did it - I ran out of the car and to the fabric market door.
I was soaked.
Actually that is an understatement. I was completely and utterly drenched through as if I had jumped into an Olympic sized pool and paddled around for 5 minutes.
After I made it to my pants-maker, I went to their little curtain change room to try the new pants on only to discover I couldn’t pull them up - I was too wet. They got stuck somewhere at my thigh and the lady asked me if they were ok and all I could grunt was “Yup! Sure! Fit great!”, But they didn’t. To this day I still shake my fist at a Shanghai storm remembering the way too high-wasted pleated-front RED mommy jeans I ended up with that still sit unworn in my closet.
So with that I bring you my: How To Survive in Shanghai During Rainy Season Guide
1. Stay inside. You don’t need to go outside - there are sherpas, you can have groceries delivered to your door, and I’m sure you can employ SOMEONE to take your kids to school. They can get wet and you can wave from your dry doorstep.
2. If someone is trying to get you to go outside, insist that you have to do something inside. Lying is fine - your ayi is sick today, you have to clean your goldfish tank, you really have to catch up on macramé, you have to learn what macramé is; whatever, it’s better than being damp.
3. If you NEED to go outside - which I’ve already said don’t, buy the largest most obnoxious umbrella you can find. Like think golf umbrella, then go bigger. If you can fit all of your family and a few friends under it you probably have the right size. Maybe.
4. Resist the urge to buy your 5-year-old (and under) an umbrella of their own. You know what that leads to? I’ll tell you: “Kai hold the umbrella properly! WHAT are you doing!? The umbrella is NOT to catch water with it’s to keep the water off of you! See now you’re just as wet as if I didn't bring the umbrella at all. And now you broke it in half. Great.”
5. Ensure that your personal umbrella makes you happy. For example my giant sized umbrella is rainbow colored. Whenever I look up at it I’m like: OOOOOOH PRETTY! While everyone else with their depressing black umbrellas are like: I hate life! And are THIS close to throwing themselves into traffic.
6. Get rain boots. I can’t stress this enough. Even the baby should have rain boots. My son had rain boots before he could walk and only because the Shanghai rain finds some way to get into their shoes whether they touch the ground or not. It’s like the devil’s rain.
7. Buy as much bug spray as possible. I suggest straight up bathing in it. Those mosquitoes ain’t playin’. They’re coming for your face. And your ankles. Ankle mosquito bites are literally the worst.
But my ultimate tip for surviving the rainy season in Shanghai:
Try to enjoy it. Because beyond all that grey cloud there are bright blue skies and rainbows. But you’ll probably never see them because the rain will NEVER STOP. Nope. Now excuse me while I remain damp and hiding under a blanket in my living room for the next month.