Playing Badminton During a Typhoon!

Xiamen just lived through Super Typhoon Meranti, the biggest storm of the year this far and one of the biggest storms to hit Xiamen in decades. Needless to say it made a slight dent in my training schedule.

Like a dummy, I opted out of playing the night the typoon came. The typhoon didn’t hit until about 3am, so me not playing earlier, in hindsight, was lazy. There was a lot of traffic as everyone was trying to get off work and back home before the storm and I just thought it would be better to stay away from all of it.

“I can play all day tomorrow,” I told my coach and the group. “We don’t have class and the typhoon will be gone by morning.”

But the storm was massive and I woke up the next morning to a mess.

No electricity or water in houses and buildings, damaged cars and so many downed trees even a motorcycle couldn’t drive on the road. In fact, even walkers could barely clamor over the mess.

And the badminton courts didn’t fare so well. The building is technically a warehouse with these big garage style doors all along one side of the building to allow trucks to pull up and drop off stuff. Two of these doors blew in during the storm and ripped up the wood floors in that part of the court.

There is an old "uncle" who works at the courts and actually lives there. He was alone during the storm and took care of the cleanup.

There is an old “uncle” who works at the courts and actually lives there. He was alone during the storm and took care of the cleanup.

My coach also owns a china shop (the plates, not the country) and he didn’t make out much better there. Part of the wall collapsed and a lot of his teacups and plates shattered in the high winds.

But he was luckier than most! Badminton courts require huge buildings with very high ceilings and large surface areas with no supports. Many have a simple sheet metal roof because the roof can’t be very heavy. And lightweight sheet metal isn’t known for it’s sturdiness. A lot of badminton courts in Xiamen were destroyed, with the wind ripping off the roof, or blowing out all the skylights and large plate glass windows common at gyms and then just soaking the interior and destroying it. So a few broken doors and ripped up wood is a small price to pay to the typhoon gods.

Xiong Wei doors

We couldn’t even get in the normal door (as the rolling doors are operated electronically). So we had to climb through the wreckage to enter the courts.

But he lost power and water and with streets covered in fallen trees and no public buses, no one could get to the courts to play. (I was willing to play in the dark, as was others, but we couldn’t get there.) SO despite my optimistic hope of “playing all day” I stayed at home.

The second day after the storm, the same problems persisted and no one played. Grrrrrr…..

The third day I wasn’t willing to take no for an answer. I MUST play badminton, even if I had to hire a donkey to get me through the mess.

I didn’t quite need to take it that far, but getting to the courts was an adventure. Because of all the downed trees the bus couldn’t go it’s normal route and I ended up some place I had no idea where I was. Thank god for map apps.

7 other hardcore players made their way there as well, ready to play. We couldn’t even enter the building by the door because it is one of those rolling garage door things which is operated by electricity. But the ripped open doors made a makeshift entrance and we scrambled in that way, using the openings for light as well.

Several people still had no power at home so one dedicated player brought her computer so others could get some juice off it.

Several people still had no power at home so one dedicated player brought her computer so others could get some juice off it. You can see how the wood floor is all ripped up where the court ends.

And then we played, played played! No expert level games were played that day, there was too much wind, and it was nearly impossible to see when you were facing the broken doors, but it was fun! We felt like kids running around outside in the rain, nothing illegal but a bit naughty. And it was fun to hang out and chat a bit with everyone. We couldn’t stay very late (At one point the sun went behind some clouds and the entire place darkened and I realized how dependent we were on the sunshine to see even a little), and someone graciously offered to drive me home so I didn’t have to go hunt for the bus.

Xiong Wei Courts

Xiamen badminton courts

I’m glad I got one day of playing under my belt because it seems like it’s off limits for the rest of the week. Xiamen still has about 20,000 homes without power, and the courts are one of them (this is 4 days after the typhoon). Now that work has started again, no one is free during the day, and at night it’s too dark to play. So we will just have to wait patiently for the power…

 

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