Near Death

Storm brewing over lake Titiwangsa...

I had a near death experience.

Well, not a real text-book one with a tunnel, light and family members you really didn't want to meet so soon after your demise - give me a break, I just died - waving at the other end, pretending to be happy to see you. No, not one like that. More one according to my own definition, where you think you might die or are about to die, or are close to dying, ergo: near death.

It was at Lake Titiwangsa, a lake and a park nearby the city, somewhat on the outside at the north-east of Kuala Lumpur.

All was fine in the beginning. The weather was nice, the Ferris wheel was nice. A bit small compared to the Singapore or London one, but it's Malaysia, give them a break too; at least they have one.

After spinning our rounds in it, we took a stroll through the park. There was rain coming, that was obvious from the sky, but we thought we could make it. Not so. Half way the park around the lake it started.

Now, I've witnessed many rain storm in the city.

First there's wind.

KL is never windy, the air in that city doesn't move, perhaps up and down, but never sideways, so when it starts to blow in KL you know rain is coming. For the scientifically inclined: it's a quite sudden drop in air pressure which causes this. Then the rain starts and you use your umbrella or you step inside and wait. It's violent sometimes, but mostly vertical.

But out in the open, over the lake, without the shelter of big buildings, I experienced the true violence of these thunder storms.

The wind was cold and aggressive, the temperature must have dropped at least 8 degrees in a few minutes, and it blew the rain almost horizontally through the wooden cabin we had fled into. Just a roof on some pillars, not meant to keep the rain out. We were not alone; some 15 people were seeking shelter, mostly Malaysians. They were smiley and laughing and protecting a father with his baby against the rain, by all standing around him. A sweet gesture of community spirit I thought, a bit jealous of the baby.

But then it started: thunder. We were standing on soaking soil. Water in our sandals, and lightning. Flash Bang! Not 'flash'......... 'bang'... No... Flash Bang! Instantaneously. Which meant it was right above us (for the scientifically inclined).

And all the knowledge I had gained in a life time, about electricity and water, came rushing through my brain, like the rain through that cabin.

The Malaysians were still smiling. I wasn't. The bangs were ear deafening and the flashes scared the crap out of me. If one would hit the ground, even indirectly, we would all be toast. It was dangerous, no kidding. A measly shelter under treetops, standing in water with some millions of volts right above our heads. I've electrocuted myself many time as a kid by playing with sockets and plugs, but a lightning bolt you won't survive that easily.

Of course this story ends in an anti-climax, since we obviously did survive it, else I wouldn't be typing this. Nobody died, the baby was fine and we all went our merry way after the rain had stopped.

Sorry to disappoint you all with this somewhat lame ending (a tree had fallen down though a bit further in the park, at least that's something...).

Canon EOS 40D with Canon EF 35mm f/2.0

Lake Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - 23 March 2008