This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
Breathing in Chiang Mai…
If you live anywhere in or near northern Thailand you probably can’t get the smog out of your head – both physically and figuratively. I live about ½ kilometer from the base of Doi Pui – Doi Suthep National park. Today I can’t see the mountains less than 500 meters away. This week four airplanes were diverted from Chiang Mai International Airport because of limited visibility.
And now I’ve had my first head cold here in almost 10 years. Is it a co-inky-dink that it has happened just as the smog rolled in?
I don’t go into town much unless I have some business to take care of. Yesterday we did the paperwork to get our tax refund for the last three years. That’s the good news. The bad news is I was thinking too much about the bad visibility as I was driving that I missed my turn to the bank.
The air pollution is as bad as I have seen it in many years (three times beyond the safety limits in nearby Chiang rai). It has me almost thinking about a move to Beijing.
With all this going on we thought it might be a good time to work on Thai vocabulary to describe the current situation. After, we’ll construct Thai dialogs using the vocabulary, just in case you want to talk with a Thai friend and you are like me and it is the main topic on your mind.
Thai vocabulary for breathing (or not) in Chiang mai…
มลพิษ /mon-lá-pít/ (พิษ = poison)
มลภาวะเป็นพิษ /mon-paa-wá-bpen-pít/ (ภาวะ = a condition of being poisoned)
มลพิษทางอากาศ /mon-pít taang aa-gàat/ (อากาศ = air)
มลพิษทางน้ำ /mon-pít taang náam/ (น้ำ = water)
หมอกควัน /mòk-kwan/ (หมอก = fog, mist; ควัน = smoke)
ควันพิษ /kwan-pít/ (poison smoke)
The English word “smog” is a combination of “smoke” and “fog”. Thai does something similar.
Mask (nowadays ubiquitous)
หน้ากากอนามัย /nâa-gàak à-naa-mai/ (อนามัย = hygiene)
โรคปอด /rôhk bpòt/
โรคภูมิแพ้ /rôhk-poom-páe/ (to have an allergy)
แพ้ /páe/ (to be allergic to something)
To burn garbage
เผาขยะ /păo kà-yà/
To burn the rice fields.
เผาทุ่งนา /păo tûng-naa/
To burn the forest.
เผาป่า /păo bpàa/
And here’s some phrases for burning in Chiang mai…
Let’s use what we have learned. At least it will be somewhat cathartic.
A: How’s the weather today in Chiang Mai?
wan née aa-gàat chiang-mài bpen yang ngai
B: The smog is really bad.
mòk kwan mâi dee jing jing
A: What causes all that smog?
mòk kwan mee săa-hàyt a-rai bâang
B: They are burning the fields, and garbage, and the forests.
พวกเขาเผาทุ่งนา เผาขยะ และ เผาป่า
pûak-kăo-păo-tûng-naa păo-kà-yà láe păo bpàa
A: Are people getting sick from the pollution?
mon-pít tam hâi kon mâi sà-baai rĕu
B: Yes, especially people with lung disease, asthma, and allergies.
ครับ โดยเฉพาะคนที่เป็น โรคปอด โรคหอบหืด และ โรคภูมิแพ้
kráp doi chà-pór kon têe bpen rôhk-bpòt rôhk hòp hèut láe rôhk poom páe
They will cough and have phlegm in their lungs. It’s best to wear a mask.
เขาจะไอ และ มี เสมหะ ในปอด ใส่หน้ากากดีกว่า
kăo jà ai láe mee săym-hà nai bpòt sài nâa gàak dee gwàa
There’s too much burning in Chiang mai!…
So here is my plan. I’m thinking of taking that tax return that we just got and buying two tickets to Bali and then taking one really, really deep breath. And pray for rain.
But before I go, here’s an iOS app by Thailand’s Pollution Control Department: Air4Thai. And if you are like me and don’t use apps, here’s a useful website: City Hall, Chiangmai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI).
Breathing in Chiang mai audo download: 1.2mg zip
Note: The audio files are for personal use only.
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6 thoughts on “Thai Language Thai Culture: Breathing in Chiang Mai”
Has a scientific analyse of an air sample ever been made ?
Showing the proportion of small particules coming from dust, from burning field and forest, from vehicles, from factories, etc.
I don’t know if such an analyse is feasible. But if it is, I would be surprised if the results show that the proportion of small particles coming from burning the forest / rice fields is higher than 10%.
Air quality today is rated “Good”. after two rain storms, lots of downed trees and a morning’s cleanup we deserve it. These are sometimes called the “Songkran Rains” because they always come just around Songkran, or Thai New years. They are also referred to as the “Mango Rains” because the mangoes are flowering and just about to have fruit. The Thais refer to them as ฝนชะดอกมะม่ว (ชะ = to cleanse) “The rain which washes away the Mango flowers.” The rain and wind will clean out the mango flowers leaving just the fruit behind.
Whatever they are called, they are just wonderful – 28 C (82 F) and smoke free. And it looks like more rain this afternoon. No complaints here.
Thank you Karla. It’s been a real challenge being here through this. Last year was a breeze, this year, a strain on the lungs.
This is the official government site which goes with the app: http://www.pcd.go.th/ – the data does not match up with that other site (which I think originates from China?). All I can say is, so glad I no longer have to live in Chiang Mai during this time of year!! Hope it rains very hard, very soon, for a long duration….
That’s awful – how long has it been burning?
Same in Geneva today (19.3.2015): rubish collecting plant on fire near the center of the city. Smelly smoke