But it wasn’t all procrastination. A minor back injury sidelined me for a month, bronchitis killed 3 weeks and not wanting to travel around Christmas and New Years ate up 3 more weeks. What killed motivation most of all was finding that the second class sleeper cars were all sold out on the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for any day I asked. OK, that’s not quite true, there were a couple times when a berth was available next to the bathroom.
Didn’t want to take a 10 hour bus from Bangkok because that would make for a long day getting from Hua Hin via minibus and allowing for traffic. I had all but given up going this year when I stumbled across a bus that runs from HH to Chiang Mai. First class bus, 32 seater, 12.5 hours, what’s not to like?
Burning season, that’s what. The valleys of north Thailand and surrounding countries can become unbearable when farmers burn their stubble before planting the new crop. And that’s unbearable for people with normal upper respiratory systems. But everything happens for a reason, so I bought a ticket north for Tuesday, 3 days from now. If the air is too bad I can turn around. Its usually no problem getting train tickets heading south.
Thailand has decent daily air quality monitoring and the air isn’t bad there yet. Air in Chiang Mai has been better than Bangkok the past few days. The expat forums say burning hasn’t started yet. Maybe I’ll get a few good days in.
This organization monitors fires across the globe and produces a daily dataset that can be viewed in Google Earth. The photo below is centered on Chiang Mai. It was taken yesterday. Doesn’t look too bad.
The same can’t be said for the SE Asia.
The symbols exaggerate the problem. The symbol size has to be large enough to see, which makes it many times larger than the fire.