Editorial: April 2015

 |  March 31, 2015

As one friend after another posted about escaping Chiang Mai’s pall of horror, I tried to be magnanimous: “Nice filthy martini on Chaweng there (big smiley face),” “Oooh London looks Baltic (555),” “Say hi to the sharks! (sad face for Missing the diving trip).”


But it becomes increasingly hard to keep perky when all about you are abandoning this choking wok that we call home. Soon I began to get a tad snarky. “Going to Bangkok to breathe? Don’t choke on it (tongue-sticking-out emoticon).” “Fine, you go and sit in a villa in Tuscany for the summer, don’t mind me (grump, frown)!” And then I gave up all pretense and got into a right snit: “Pfft.”

Those who can, have left. Kind of like a preview to the apocalypse: the chosen ones have ascended to parts unknown (though you know damn well you want to be in those parts too) and you are stuck here, waiting to see how bad it’s going to get.

“Why don’t the authorities do anything?” we all moan as we wake up to another day where skies are filtered like a pretentious Instagram enthusiast’s sunset.

Believe it or not, the authorities are in as much of a blind panic as we are. Not the most reassuring nugget of information, I know, but there you go. Not that their panic is doing us any good, but at least they are in it with us…

…or so I thought. Until I found out today that the governor is in Toronto, Canada, visiting a – wait for it – flower festival.

Sure, at this point what can he do that should have been done months, years…decades ago? But that it not the point. Captain, sinking ship, and all that. The right thing to do was to have stayed with us.

Interestingly, and also today, our prime minister referenced an odd map produced by the Department of National Park Wildlife and Plant Conservation – a map diametrically contradictory to the NASA map that most of us reference when looking at burning hotspots in the region (see page 14) – indicating the lack of burning in Thailand, and our neighbour’s pyromaniacal tendencies. How are we to find solutions to this pernicious problem if we can’t even accept our own culpability?

When you and I can look out of our windows just about every night this week and see burning in the mountains. When NASA’s satellite image tells us that it is we who are burning our own house down. When our social media is exploding with images, anecdotes, reports and outrages about rampant fires, irresponsible burning, bad health, flight cancellations, tourism numbers dropping, and when the exodus of those who can is depleting my social circle to an alarmingly lonely rate, we are in trouble!

I need to know that our authorities understand this and take it seriously. Gallivanting to flower shows, coming up with very dubious maps and blaming our neighbours is NOT acceptable (neither is the pathetic display of water spraying at Tha Pae Gate – eye roll).

By the time you read this the worst could be over. If so, officials will be patting one another – and themselves – on the back for scraping through another year’s hazard, putting off talks of long term solutions until next year’s crisis is upon us.

Depressing stuff (face palm).

Citylife this month:

She has been a breath of fresh air here at Citylife (a rarity in these smog-smothered days), but we are going to have to say farewell to managing editor Hilary Cadigan, who leaves us this month after nearly three years to pursue a writing career in the United States. We have enjoyed her visits to nudist resorts and erotic gardens; joined her in indignation over inadequate women’s rights, the horrors of animal trafficking and the decline of Buddhism; read her interviews of fabulous characters such as our beloved pianist Jonas Dept and the uber chic Francois Russo, and giggled along as we followed her adventures around town – cat cafes, geocaching treasure hunts and snake hunting.

She bids farewell to you all this month with an alarming look at a topic of great importance to we writers: the proliferation of plagiarism here in Thailand. In the meanwhile, we will all be treated to a guest appearance by James Austin Farrell next month as he stands in for the May edition!