It's Smoky Season in Chiang Mai.
It's the time of year when farmers burn their fields to eliminate the waste from the previous season's crop and, more sadly, when locals go into the National Parks and burn the underbrush to make it easier to pick mushrooms in a couple months -- mushrooms that fetch a high price locally and in China. Both activities are illegal, but somehow they persist. Chiang Mai has had the dubious honor of being the city in the world with the highest air pollution for several weeks now. You can read about this problem on the website of one of our partners, Warm Heart Foundation.
While the high air pollution and horrendous road safety problem are much bigger threats to public health in Thailand, the novel coronovirus, COVID-19 has now attracted the most attention. While there isn't a mandate (yet) to stop public gatherings, we're finding that several organizations serving Chiang Mai expats, such as the Chiang Mai Expats Club and The Informal Northern Thailand Group have temporarily suspended their meetings, citing COVID-19. Yet there has only been one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Chiang Mai and the public health system in Thailand is robust, with universal health care access for Thai nationals.
The members of CMIRC continued with their projects and activities in February, although the club's Board will meet soon to decide if activities should be curtailed over concerns about COVID-19. This may be your last opportunity for a while to pour your favorite beverage and relax to enjoy such a fun-packed bulletin, below. You can better view each story by clicking on the story's title where you'll be taken to the story on our website, displayed in a full-page, easy-to-view format.