Reporting from the Mountains: CityNews takes a long drive through fires and barren hills

 | Wed 27 Apr 2016 04:56 ICT

CityNews – Headed up into the mountains of Samoeng yesterday to see for ourselves what is going on with our environment and the results are worrying – fires, deforestation, drought and garbage.

We drove up Mae Sa Valley towards Mon Jam to take in the sweeping views. Passing the new Jungle Coaster, we found it ironic that the jungle seemed to have been cleared to make room for this new adventure land in Mae Rim.


Where’s the jungle, Jungle Coaster?

As we drove past Mon Jam to a viewpoint, we encountered a vista highlighted by over ten fires, each with pluming columns of smoke.


Dump site and billowing smoke

We contacted Marisa Marchitelli, creator of Smoke the Documentary, who asked us to film this little clip for her ongoing recordings of this year’s haze.


Wending our way beyond Mon Jam, we saw dozens of terraced paddy-fields barren and dry from drought. An occasional oasis of water would lead to a lovely lush patch of green, pockets of normalcy in an area struggling to grow their livelihoods.


Time and again we drove past fires burning on both sides of the road. There were so many, and yet on a four hour drive we saw no authorities at any time fighting the fires.

Often though, we’d see villagers standing guard by fires, keeping a careful eye to make sure that the fires didn’t stray too near their homes or fields. This group of men were standing guard, ready to beat back the fire.


It was lovely to see the odd verdant cluster, a reminder of what should be and used to be, with old trees and new saplings sucking whatever water remains in a rapidly drying gully.

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though on the most part it was all most distressing to see the forest destroyed by both fire and farming. This was just one tiny little area in the north of Thailand but it was devastating to have seen dozens upon dozens of fires, big and small, man made and natural, dotting the landscape. It was also heartbreaking to see farmers walking miles and miles carrying jars of water, or pickup trucks laden with large tanks of water parked by the few remaining roadside streams, filling up precious water to take home.


On a – slightly – more positive note, at least the haze provided a spectacular sunset.