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Life in Chiang Mai


Heat and smog

By Heather Allen
So, the smog and heat have arrived and everyone is complaining. Someone asked me why do we complain about the heat when it gets hot ever year? I believe it is one of those things that draws us all together. We meet someone we don’t even know but we can instantly connect because we are both hot and sweaty and wishing for a nice cool air conditioned room. Instantly I bond with the other person as we commiserate over how darn hot it is. It doesn’t matter if the other person is Thai or foreign, we all have this shared misery in common.

Although truth be told, I rather like the heat. I much prefer it to be freezing cold and miserable in wet, gray rain. Some people like the snow, but I confess, I do not so much. Yes it is very pretty when looking from a nice warm room with a roaring fireplace, drinking hot cocoa. Otherwise, it is cold, it is wet and my feet are cold for months on end. I dislike having cold feet and never quite having full feeling in my toes. Frankly, I would not trade the hot, hot weather for that, ever.

The smog, however, is not something we can happily commiserate over. There isn’t a lot one can do about hot weather but there is a tremendous amount that can be done to alleviate the health issues that come with the smoke season and the fact that this is not happening breeds resentment. So, we do not commiserate with one another over the awful air, but we cast suspicious glances at our neighbors and passersby wondering if these selfish people are the reason for the cough that lasts for three months. If that man over there is the cause of my burning eyes and itching throat.

The smoke season makes us all angry; angry with unknown strangers who don’t care whose lives they affect and makes us angry with a government that we feel is not doing enough. It makes us angry with the helpless feeling of having our health deteriorate because other people just don’t care and not being able to do a whole lot about it.

So, many of us flee to cleaner climes. However, most of Chiang Mai does not have that luxury and so are forced to breathe in air that is dangerous to their health. I am feeling rather grumpy already, I suspect tempers will all be running high soon.

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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Heat and smog