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It’s officially burning season here in Chiang Mai. The farmers in the countryside are burning off their fields for a very rational reason that I don’t know (something about rice fertility) and because CM is in a valley, the smoke gets trapped; since there’s no rain this time of year, all those schnasty particles keep floating around in the atmo causing mass hysteria among prospective tourists. Seriously. People in the forums I follow are panicking and talking about scrapping their international travel plans.

We’re just getting started, but so burning season isn’t that bad. We’ve been hovering in the 60s-80s in air quality, which is considered moderate.

Chiang Mai air quality in early burning season

I see the reason for the panic, given that most of the U.S. is all green all the time. My home town is hovering at a crisp, fresh 28 right now.

US Air Quality

But compared to the rest of Asia????

Asia Air Quality
There’s a 454 up in there. That’s like doing away with oxygen and breathing in coal-dust gelatin. Also why I have no plans to go back to China.

Since I’m sitting pretty over here with zero allergies or respiratory concerns, burning season is no big deal until it gets a lot worse than this. Which it will, but I’ll wear a mask and cope if/when that happens.

My bigger concern? Noise pollution.

I was sitting at my desk this morning and a buzz saw ripped into action across my alley at 8 a.m. In the few moments the saw paused I heard: several jets taking of and landing; a gong being pounded to death; at least two Thai advert trucks stuck in traffic, blaring songs and slogans; some sort of concert down the road with call and response action and rolling applause; the daily chorus of screeching breaks; and more motorcycles revving/drag-racing/breaking the sound barrier than I care to count.

Not exaggerating. Needless to say, I left the ranch to go sit at a cafe.

I’m not moving out by any means (not when the milk tea situation is so on point) but if I were ranking my annoyances, I’d put the noise pollution way above the environmental kind. Case in point: it’s Friday night, so I have to wear earplugs or I’ll get woken up by late-night karaoke…but I’m still keeping my window open.