Crazy Hazy Days In Chiang Mai


My throat hurts, my skin feels sore, my eyes are scratchy and my nose won’t stop running. The occasional sneeze makes my headache worse.

I woke to yet another blurred day. A quick check out the bedroom window shows the end of our street is still murked by the haze that descended on Chiang Mai a week ago.

What began as a minor annoyance has become a concern. Miss M has developed a rash and we don’t know whether it’s a reaction to the smoky smoggy air or whether she’s brushed up against something.

News sites report the Northern Royal Rainmaking Centre is about to do its first cloud seeding of this year’s haze season. Cloud seeding is supposed to bring rain to wash the pollutants out of the air.

And, yes, it is quite scary that there’s a haze “season” in Chiang Mai. When we lived in Singapore, a tiny nation with negligible industry, I was shocked there was haze season there. That haze was blamed on Indonesian farmers clearing forests and burning the sappy logs and green leaves in underground pits, igniting the local form of peat in the process. Just what are we doing to our planet?

This haze across northern Thailand is supposed to be the result of farmers burning off, as well as nearby forest fires. But although locals are blaming farmers, people in our local moo are burning piles of leaves, adding to the general throat-scratchy horribleness of air that you can see.

We’ve been in Chiang Mai for five months now. From time to time I’ve mentally scoffed at people who told me Chiang Mai could get hazy. We’ve enjoyed the crisp clean feel of the air and the cooler temperatures that come from being further north of the equator than we’ve ever lived before.

But now the haze is here and I am wondering if we should leave. The news reports say the air is too dry for the cloud seeding to work immediately. I don’t know how much longer I can stand the haze. It’s making everything irritating – breathing, living in my skin, trying to focus on work and waiting for the baby to fall asleep.

Leaving Chiang Mai early is going to put another dent in our already battered savings. But I think it’s better to focus on my mental health than the numbers in our online bank account.

But, please, if you’re in the mood for dancing, please do a rain dance for grouchy old sore-skinned me.

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Update: Here’s a youtube video of the Chiang Mai haze when it was at its worst:

8 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.

13 Comments

  1. Amy says:

    I’ll be thinking of you. I want to just move, too, and we can’t. Not only because our bank account is depleted, but my husband has very inconveniently broken his ankle. I hope you get somewhere soon that you’ll be feeling better.
    Amy recently posted..Photo Friday – At the beach

    • Barbara says:

      Oh, very inconvenient husband. I hope you had a word with him about that.
      We’re still waiting to see what happens here. Taking the baby to the doctor today to get her rash checked. What the doctor says might help us decide what to do.

  2. Aledys Ver says:

    This sounds really terrible; I know that I wouldn’t be able to stand it. My family and friends back in Argentina, especially those in the Patagonia have been suffering the effects of the ashes coming out of the Puyenhue ruining their lungs, eyes, crops, cattle and basically their lives, but it’s subsiding now and it’s a one time occurence with rather long lasting effects. I can’t imagine how it must be to live in those circumstances. All my best and I hope the haze season is over soon!
    Aledys Ver recently posted..Food from home: Diego’s ñoquis de papa (potato gnocchi)

    • Barbara says:

      Oh boy, living near a volcano – that would be quite scary. This haze seems to be a made-man problem, which really does make me sad.
      I hope your friends and family in Argentina get some relief soon, Aledys.

  3. Nancie says:

    I’ve never experienced the CM haze, but I have heard a lot about it over the years. I was asking someone yesterday if the haze isn’t early this year. They said yes; doesn’t usually happen until later in March or April; not that that helps you any.

    I hope you get some relief soon. I don’t blame you for thinking about leaving early.

  4. Julie says:

    I’ve been there at this season, and I can understand what you’re suffering from. If it gets very uncomfortable, you’d better move. Really.
    Julie recently posted..restorative dentistry

  5. Brian says:

    any change in the situation up there? we (me, wife and 5yr old daughter) are planning to head there for a 4nt stay on march 12th and (due to the fact that the train tickets and hotel are already paid for) really hoping that we catch a lucky break and get a few clearish days….

    thanks for any updated info you can share…

  6. Brian says:

    thx Barbara! My daughter has been doing a rain dance for a week now 🙂

  7. Brenda Joyce says:

    Barbara you are missing a very hot and very smoggy season here in Chiang Mai. Good for you and Poppy that you are out of it but miss you! I enjoy your blog, esp. about the raising of a toddler on the road – what a great experience for your family!

    Your video of the smog really makes it clear – when I first was here a friend told me that during this season she could not see across the street and I thought she was exaggerating – ha! I have had days just like that this year.
    Brenda Joyce recently posted..100 Days After Death

    • Barbara says:

      Chiang Mai is fabulous in the non-smoggy season. I hope the Thai authorities can get a proper grip on the problem. It’s very unhealthy. Thanks for your lovely compliments, too, Brenda.

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