Taiping was formerly known as Larut, one of the town in our country which was developed due to tin discovery. In the olden days, Larut used to be plagued by the wars between members of both the Cantonese Ghee Hin Society (义兴私会党) and the Hakka Hai San society (海山私会党), till the British colonials arrived and ended the war with the signing of the Pangkor Treaty of 1874.

Taiping Lake is always full with greeneries as a result of the huge rainfall in Taiping.

Taiping people’s unique habit – rain betting

Taiping’s rainfall volume is known to be the greatest in Malaysia;  with close to 2-3 weeks of rain every month. That’s how it gained its another beautiful name – rain town. Thus, the creative Taiping people started to predict weather and it slowly transformed into rain betting which only happened there. This activity became popular in the 70s and it was said that Taiping Market’s fish sellers were the ones who started it.

The most popular market for Taiping people to rain bet – The Taiping Market.

The ways and standard of rain betting

There are a few ways of rain betting; the gamblers can choose to bet on when will the rain start or stop, or bet on how many times will it rain for the day. Some will even bet on the rainfall volume of the following day or even the whole week. The time for the betting is usually from 8 a.m to 6 p.m., so a lot of gamblers will gather at the old market in the early morning. According to some gamblers, they first took the “raindrop on newspapers” as the standard. One of the gamblers will lay a piece of newspapers open; the time when first raindrop appears on newspapers will be taken as the starting time of rain. Don’t you think that rain betting is only a game among residents to kill time ; the gamblers’ bet is can be considerably high , ranging from RM 50 to RM 5000. There’s a maximum limit for betting which depends on bookmaker’s financial ability; the highest maximum limit will be RM 50,000.

If there’s fish scale shaped clouds in the sky and the clouds are not moving, it means that there will be no rain.

Gamblers’ skills

Taiping gamblers do not bother much about weather forecast because they all have their own ways of forecasting rain. Some will walk up a hill to observe the cloud layers; some will lick their middle finger, and put the fingers in the air to feel the wind direction, humidity and so on; some will even take a boat ride to Kuala Sepetang to observe the clouds, then go back to Taiping for rain betting. A few of the gamblers share their tips of clouds observation: if the clouds are fish scale shaped, there will probably be no rain; if the clouds are thick, there will be rain. Next, high probability of rain if the midnight is hot; low probability of rain if the midnight is cold. Other than the clouds, wind direction is an important key to forecast rain. If the clouds are blown to the east side of Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut), there will be rain; if the wind is towards south, no rain then. Sometimes strong wind will blow the clouds apart which results in no rain. It seems that the gamblers had become experts of rain forecast.

Gamblers discussing weather in front of market has slowly become history.

Although gambling is illegal in Malaysia, the police cannot do anything with the gamblers because rain betting does not require any equipments. There will be around 40 to 50 people gathering in the market when rain betting was a real hit. The gamblers consisted of market vendors and business people from other states; some were even from the families who involved in rain betting for generations. It was said that some gamblers earned money through rain betting: they bought property, home appliances and even helped out with household expenses. However, many rain-betting gamblers had passed away, leaving only a few old people who continued the activity – the view of people pointing at the sky and discussing about the weather had become history.

As a Malaysian, or even a someone from Taiping, have you heard of rain betting before? Share it out and let more of your friends know about it!

Artical from Cultureguru https://cultureguru.my/en/2016/11/30/taiping-story-rain-town-heard-rain-betting/