Taiping or Rain Town
Taiping is a small town located in Perak, northwest of Malaysia. It’s well known for its well-reserved colonial architecture, Taiping Lake Gardens and its rainfall volume, which is the heaviest in all the country. Thus earning its nickname ‘Rain Town’.
Taiping was formerly known as Larut. It was built on the discovery of tin deposits in its lands, turning it into a profitable mining town. Larut or Taiping used to be plagued by wars between the Cantonese Ghee Hin Society and Hakka Hai San Society. These wars were only stopped upon the arrival of Malaysia’s British colonizers and the signing of the Pangkor Treaty of 1874.
Taiping’s Culture of Rain Betting
Many Malaysians call Taiping Rain Town or ‘the Wettest Town’. Rain fall can continue for only a few hours a day or last for up to 2-3 weeks. Sometimes it can lasts even a whole month long! That’s a lot of rain.
This, in turn, gave birth to the incredibly ingenious culture of Rain Betting.
What Happens in Rain Betting?
Rain fall became a frequent occurrence in their town, so Taiping locals started getting creative. They started predicting the weather: whether or not it was going to rain, for how long. This then turned into a game of betting. Rain Betting, to be exact.
Rain Betting was popular back in the 70s. Locals say that it was Taiping’s Fish Market Sellers who started the whole phenomenon.
How Taiping’s Locals Do Rain Betting
But how does one exactly do rain betting? There are different ways of betting on rain. Gamblers can choose to wager on when the rain will start or stop. They can even bet on how many times it will rain in a day. The craftier players will bet on the rainfall volume either for the following day or the whole week!
Taiping’s rain betting is systematized, as there is a set time for when locals can join in on the betting. Rain betting usually happens from 8 AM in the morning to 6 PM in the evening. The gambling happens most often in the old market, where it was rumored to have first started.
Many locals will gather there during the mornings just so they can set their bets in. Players set a standard “raindrop on newspapers”–this is the official starting time of the rain. They will spread open a newspaper on the ground, waiting for the first drops of rain to fall on the paper. This will signal the rain’s said official starting time.
Rain Betting isn’t an activity locals do just to kill time or to socialize with other townspeople. The wagers can reach impressively high, from RM50 up to RM5, 000! Though bet limits are still imposed on the players depending on the bookmaker’s financial ability. The highest maximum limit will be up to RM50, 000.
Forecasting Weather to Predict Odds of Winning
Rain Betting is creative because the locals have found their own ways of forecasting the weather.
Some walk up to hills to look at the clouds; some will lick their middle finger and stick it up in the air to feel the winds’ directions or the humidity. Others will even go so far as to take a boat ride to Kuala Sepetang just to observe the clouds. They’ll then go back to Taiping just to rain bet again.
Some locals have uncommon but inventive methods of predicting the rain, like looking at the shape of the clouds, being able to tell the the probability of rain by referring to last night’s temperature.
Crafty Gambling in Malaysia
Traditional, land-based gambling is illegal in Malaysia because of the majority Muslim populations’ Sharia Laws. Still, authorities couldn’t do anything about Taiping’s rain betting since it failed to involve any equipment for it to fall into the law.
At the height of Rain Betting, around 40-50 people will gather in the market to win big money. They say that some were able to buy properties and home appliances, while others had extra cash to pay for household expenses. That’s why even business people from other states went all the way to Taiping just to take part in Rain Betting.
Nowadays, a lot of the locals who used to do rain betting have now passed away. Though some managed to pass the tradition down per generation in their families.
Malaysians’ Love for Gambling
If Rain Betting has proven anything, it’s that Malaysians really do have a love for gambling. Although Genting Highlands is the only land-based casino, sports betting and online casinos is popular among Malaysians.
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