Smoke and haze daze

“They just love burning stuff down here.”

Mike (the restauranteur) had answered the question: “Why is there so much smoke in the air?”

Thailand does not have good air quality.  Most of the time, it is rated ‘moderate’ as in ‘of moderate concern’ (think: a fully engaged house fire a few doors down).  You pretty much have to go way south to get to clear skies and low particulate counts.  It’s a smoky place. Where we are, the index is considered low/moderate.  But low/moderate in Thailand is ridiculous to ‘usual’ or ‘common’ in BC where I live.  If Beijing is 100 and Bangkok is 60, Hua Hin is 20 and our island has yet to register on the scale.

Today is a good day here and I would guess we have about three to five-mile visibility.  Last night Sal and I went back to the Passport and it was smoky ride there and back.  This morning, we awoke with irritated eyes.  No biggy.  A shower and a few eye drops and we were fine but it is NOT a healthy environment. I like Thailand for some odd reason but not nearly enough to live here for more than a month.  And, given my age, probably never again.

To be fair, the pollution is not so much industrial as it is agricultural.  Thais regularly burn their crop stubble after harvesting so as to ‘reinvigorate’ the soil much in the way that forest fires seem to accelerate re-growth once the fire is out. The smoke that is irritating us is organic in nature.  That makes it somewhat better.  But not good.

Plus, Mike is right.  The little ‘shops’ and markets have open fires, the houses along the sois and alleyways have ‘burn’ pits and it would be hard to go more than a kilometre without seeing someone burning something.  And it is not always organic when they do.  Like I said, Thailand is a smokey place.

Last night’s dinner was just as good as the first one.  Better, actually.  The first meal (Monday) we went for the ‘speciality’ and it was great.  Huge, but great.  Last night, we went ‘local’ (pink/red curried squids that were fabulous) and deep-fried spring rolls.  With more than enough food, Chang beer and a generous tip, the bill was C$12.00.  But, more to the point, delicious.  That Lek can cook!

“That’s a problem, actually.  We can’t get good staff.  We’ve tried three so-called chefs and none of them could do what Lek does even after instruction.  Even tho we tell them to do it a certain way, they revert to their own style as soon as we leave the kitchen.  It’s maddening.  How was your curry, by the way?”

“Fabulous!”

“Not too spicy?  Every night she (a new hire) makes it spicier.  Every night I have to go in and cut it back.”

“No.  It was perfect.”

Mike took his worried face and his hunched-over form to the front of the restaurant and greeted another couple named Heineken or Bjornson or something with a ‘sen’ at the end.  They grunted Mike a greeting in their Viking-esque, no-emotion-shown kind of way.  He came back to us.  I think Sal and I are like fireworks compared to his usual clientele.  We’re a laugh a minute.  OK, a laugh every twenty minutes but still better than all the Finns and Norwegians combined on a happy, boisterous night.  In fact, it turns out that Monday night (our first visit) was a happy and boisterous night of Scandanavian hijinks and glee.  Or so Mike said.  Apparently, he had to turn some couples away.

But we were there.  I didn’t see any hijinks.  I didn’t hear laughter.  I saw what looked like dead, fat, white people looking blank and not communicating.  The food was great but the atmosphere was closer to funereal than part-tay.  Still, maybe their humour is just really subtle, ya know?  Maybe we were the joke?

“Hah!  Hey, Ole’, did you see the expression on those two Canadians, eh?  Hilarious!”

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Smoke and haze daze

    • As in ‘satisfied? Content? Could be, I suppose. They certainly looked benign. I am NOT being harsh, just noticing….that there was nothing to really notice….ya know?

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  1. Smokey, eh? Still, I bet it is nice and warm. Just so you know, and don’t come rushing back too soon, we are engulfed in a blizzard at the moment; and just the other day we were commenting on how spring-like the weather conditions were. Anyway, the end-of-the-road will probably be a no-go zone tomorrow, and for the following week or so. Must be quite a contrast: the non-smiling northern Euros versus the cheerful Thai faces? Wear a mask and enjoy the heat while you can!

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    • You are right. It is quite a contrast. The other night a ‘mixed’ (age and culture) couple sat beside us. She was quite lovely and gave us both a huge smile. He ignored us and sat straight ahead facing the outside. My first reaction was to smile back, maybe chat but then, his dour, deadpan suggested that a quick nod and half-smile in her direction would have to suffice. And I half thought….’what the…?’
      Aaaah the major blizzard at the end of the road that justifies travel to anywhere at such times. Thanks for that. Now, for your sake, let’s hope it is short-lived.

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      • Your first reaction to smile was the right one IMHO, compassion and kindness are the most worthwhile things one can bring to any circumstance, I have had a hard time with that when dealing with some mental case alberta laid off roid rat,
        with his Ford 250 and road rage, there seems to be many, in these parts of late.
        Re your road closure funny I’m out and about in Victoria today in short pants and a tee shirt, gotta love louden wainwrigts lyric ‘when it rains in LA I just love it that way, cuz theres just too much sunshine around here”

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      • It was…short lived that is, and never as bad as last year’s dump of the white stuff. Things are pretty mild and lovely these days, though tons of rain and a few extreme wind and tide events…hope you are still enjoying the heat!

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