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