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Whirlwind Trip Through a Monsoon

Judi makes the most of monsoon season in Malaysia.

Four tips for making the most of the rainy season.

Ideally, all travel plans should be made so that trips happen during the “on” season. However, when you’re trying to squish as much adventure into a four-month semester as possible and time is of the essence, you won’t always get this luxury. Fortunately, even when you’re traveling to the remote Tioman Island off Malaysia, there are always things you can do even when the weather isn’t perfect.

Malaysia experiences two monsoon seasons: May to September and November to March. I booked my trip for mid-February, knowing that I’d most likely be meeting one of these storms. Although this meant I wouldn’t be spending as much time soaking up the sun as you normally would on a beach holiday, it gave me room for other activities I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

The first day of my weekend trip I went for a rainforest hike to visit a waterfall. The hike itself was a bit damp, but I knew I’d be going for a swim in the natural pool at the base of the falls as soon as I reached my destination. Plus, the constant stormy weather created a surge in the falls, making the pool deep enough to jump into.

The next day consisted of my main reason for traveling to Tioman during a monsoon: surfing! Compared to Indonesia and the Philippines, Malaysia isn’t exactly well known as a surfing destination. It’s only possible in certain locations along the East coast, during the rainy season and even then, most of the waves are smaller and better for beginners. Although these criteria are too selective for most, they fit my needs perfectly and my friends and I were able to take advantage of some great waves on a beach we had virtually all to ourselves.

So if you’re ever in a similar scenario where you find you’ll be traveling through a storm, you can follow these four tips to avoid getting rained out:

1) Do your research. Rain won’t ruin every trip, such as catching St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. It might even make some better, such as getting to surf in Malaysia.

2) Look for seasonal deals. Since less people travel during off-seasons, you should be able to find some good deals on hotels and tours. Many even put together a package for you.

3) Check out local museums or other indoor activities. Lots of museums or galleries are free to get into and give you the chance to learn more about the place you’re visiting.

4) Waterproof your electronics. If you’re anywhere close to as much of a shutterbug as me, invest in a waterproof camera case and make sure other electronics like phones and MP3 players are kept in a dry bag.

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Judi Zienchuk

Judi Zienchuk has studied her way across Southeast Asia and boarded down volcanoes in Central America. When she's not gallivanting the globe, you can find her on a bike or consuming large amounts of caffeine. Check out her blog, Travvel Sized.

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