Category Archives: Thailand (General)

Fires already?

I have written many times on the subject of atmospheric pollution and although I am taking a break from blogging for a while I cannot contain my emotions when it comes to being exposed to deliberately started forest fires.

While I am managing a building project in Northern Thailand I am staying on the hill slopes of Huai Kaew village, 30 kms north of Chiang Mai, bordering the forests. The climate at this time of year is comfortable. Cool at night and early morning rising to 30c + in the day with no rain except the occasional shower.

But now the burning season starts when the monsoon rains have gone and farmers burn off the dry dead grasses and stubble to stimulate new growth next year around May/June’; then Cutting back excessive growth, clearing land and deforestation for fruit and vegetable farming.

Unfortunately making a living takes preference over self- health and the health of others. The natural environment, habitat and animal life are hardly a consideration.

Despite the annual government warnings and penalties, seldom imposed, slash and burn techniques continue unabated. Ask the locals and they will tell you ‘This is the way it has always been.’

Ask if they think it is OK and you will probably get a shrug of the shoulders or, at best, ‘What can I do’.

In other words, total apathy.

Having nearly choked to death in Phuket, due to the horrendous forest fires in Sumatra, in September/October I have a more than a vested interest in finding a solution to the Global air pollution problem.

Apart from helping to raise awareness in a small way I am virtually powerless.

And so the global problem of Global warming continues on its merry way and we all suffer the consequences.

You may say ‘The Sun will eventually destroy us so what does it matter anyway.’

I say I am thankful I have no grandchildren!!!

I leave you with this hurriedly written poem induced by indignation and wine and would like you to look at my picture of the beautiful forest I am looking at tonight which is burning as I write.

 

Why are you killing us?

Burning our land.

You have no rites of passage.

You have no right to stand

 

I watch in despair,

Each night as I laze.

Your fires that destroy us;

My lungs are ablaze.

 

The world is at war

With natures reaction,

To warming the globe

And our interaction.

 

The ice caps are melting.

The land is enveloped.

Species facing extinction.

No chance to develop.

 

I ask you again,

Please consider your brother.

Remember your learning and

How you treat your mother (Earth).

 

 

Are we human?

As Koh Phuket suffers from deliberate crop burning in far-away Sumatra and Northern Thailand prepares itself for the same treatment in February and March each year, I wonder are we obsessed with fire?

Rawai Sunrise – September 2015

Air pollution drifting in from Indonesia changes the landscape in Rawai Bay, Phuket
Air pollution drifting in from Indonesia changes the landscape in Rawai Bay, Phuket

Rawai Sunrise – August 2015

Sunrise in Rawai Bay - August 2015
Sunrise in Rawai Bay – August 2015

We are human after all – or are we human at all?

Do those who cause the problems feel guilty that 50% of the people of Northern Thailand suffer from respiratory problems? If they don’t care for their own health then the answer is obvious.

In March 2014 I posted on this topic in ‘Is North Thailand a Health Hazard’  In the light of the recent fires in Indonesia it seems appropriate to air the issue once again.

In that post I wrote:

“Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai only have populations of between 2 and 3 million. Pollution is mainly caused by subsistence farmers employing outdated ‘slash and burn’ techniques used for hundreds of years to clear forest and scrub land and grow crops. The government is well aware of the dangers to health but is failing the people miserably. Together with the many ‘Forest Fire Control Centres’, throughout the provinces, the authorities are once again proving to be either unwilling or powerless to prevent the recklessness of ignorant rural people. It would seem that most have little or no concern for their own or others health and safety.”

We know that the very star that gives us life will eventually destroy us; consuming us in a fire of cataclysmic proportions.

Surely this cannot be the reason we are committed to prior self-destruction by the constant burning of our planet?

Is the knowledge that the Sun will take away the life it gives reason for our own pre-emptive strike on the World.

Forest fires, wars and crop burning rage across the world with never-ending regularity.

Despite the fact that laws are in place governments are powerless to stop the destruction of the planet by its inhabitants. Ignorance prevails and prosecutions are few and far between.

Have we such disregard for our neighbours that we continue to burn our lands and stand by as the smoke drifts on the wind thousands of miles across the seas to choke our brothers?

And let us not forget the never ending environmental problems and the silent suffering animals, birds, sea creatures and insects affected by our actions.

Despite all the knowledge at our disposal it seems we still fail to understand that we desperately need nature but nature does not need us.

 

 

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How to plan a public transport trip in Phuket

People often ask me how the public transport works in Phuket and why the buses drive so slowly. It’s not always easy to explain but I think this true story as told to me and recounted, almost verbatim, should give anyone a fairly good insight. It’s a lovely story and I can vouch for its authenticity. Continue reading How to plan a public transport trip in Phuket

Excitement in the village

The term MPV has just taken on a new meaning in our village. Why spend a fortune on a conventional four wheel MPV when you can get a great ‘Platinum’ three-wheeler like this for a fraction of the cost?

I nearly fell off my walking shoes when I turned the corner at 6.45am this morning and saw this really cool dude selling dried chilies and garlic from the back of his hot-rod.

But that’s not all. He was baiting his line by serenading the farmer’s wives with some very smooth modern Thai music which he played at a very acceptable volume. What a pleasant change from the, normally, ear-splitting, distorted stuff that gets blasted at us several times a week from the tops of telegraph poles linked around the villages.

Unfortunately, even since the alarm clock was invented, successive governments seem to think that we need to be scared shitless before dawn just in case we forget to get out of bed. It has obviously not occurred to the authorities that there is a distinct possibility that one or two, frail, older folk or those of nervous disposition might die from the shock.

Back to the MPMB. I was so taken with the vehicle, which was indeed multi-purpose, that I forgot to ask the vendor where he came from. Everything was brand spanking new; the sides dropped down for loading, the PA system was ‘state of the art’ and his leather bomber jacket and suede trilby set the whole thing off to perfection.

Then I had to rush after the monk who was just finishing his morning alms round as I needed to ask him something before he got back to his temple hideaway.

Home at last
Home at last

If you live in New York you probably think this is trivial stuff but, here in Northern Thailand, we don’t get excitement on this level very often!!