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Life in Chiang Mai


Life in Chiang Mai in 2013

By Heather Allen
Now that 2012 is over and we are all looking forward to 2013 is it time to compile a wish list? Number one on my wish list would be the end of the annual smog. Chiang Mai is really a great place to live; the traffic has been pretty bad lately, it is true, but it is tourist high season so it is to be expected. Having lived in a tourist town in my own country, it is part of the price residents learn to pay for living in a great place.
However, the annual haze is not something we should have to live with and is too high of a price to pay. Frankly, it is avoidable. It is not just due to belching, smoking pick-up trucks or tuk tuks. It is not just because some people burn their rubbish in town. The haze is caused by people who don’t even live here and who don’t seem to care that their actions are harming the health of several hundred thousand people.
Well, it’s time the government took some serious action. Since everything seems to emanate from Bangkok this is a simple request that Bangkok use the funds to deal with this very serious issue that is causing long term damage to people here. There are several ways to tackle this issue and they are not exclusive, rather they should be inclusive. First off a long term education campaign is required. Thailand has proven itself very capable in this aspect when it put its mind to it. Many countries send people here to study the once very effective HIV/AIDs campaign.
Secondly, put out the fires! Seems simple enough to me but perhaps it is so obvious that it is forgotten about. There are teams of firefighters in this country, the Army and Air Force have the trained personnel to go out and put out forest fires. So do it! Start now before it gets worse!
And finally, rice farmers burn their fields because it is not cost effective to till in the rice stubble. Gas is too expensive, the machines are costly. Instead of wasting money on short term toys and price supports purchase the equipment necessary, distribute it in a co-op manner like the songthaews. Teach the farmers how to use and maintain the equipment. It would be costly certainly but money better spent on the long term since the long term effects of the annual haze is contributing to cancer, asthma, emphysema and other costly health issues for many, many people.
It seems to me that if there is willpower and money enough to buy tablets for kids who may never even need them; it should certainly be there to save people’s lives and health.

The Chiang Mai Mail is publishing a series of articles on residents’ experiences of life in Chiang Mai. If you would like to contribute please email [email protected]


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Life in Chiang Mai in 2013