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A burning question

In rural Thailand many people throw their trash in a convenient corner of the yard and when the heap gets too large or smelly they rake it up into a pile and light a fire. A plume of smoke billows up from that house and depending on wind conditions, soon envelopes most of the homes in the neighborhood. Among other things, the trash contains plastic bags, drink straws, various types of food containers, and just plain garbage. 

In our little neighborhood in rural Phetchaburi it is almost a daily occurrence. The putrid and toxic smoke fills our house. It is like living in a garbage can but with smoke to breathe. We usually turn on all the ceiling fans and leave. 

The local government provides garbage pickup service for which they charge 20 Baht (about 70 cents) per month but many homes opt to burn instead possibly because burning is free. I have tried talking with my neighbors about the smell and the health problems and they just laugh in that endearing way the Thais have and say "mai pen rai" which means "it does not matter, don't fret" or something like that. 

My personal health problems aside, we should also consider that the next generation of this village is being raised in this smoke.

What is strange is that the Thais normally hold a great revulsion for anything that smells bad always quick to complain with the word "menn" meaning "bad smell". And yet, here they are right in the thick of smoke from burning rubbish and they don't seem to care. 

It's a paradox. 

As for me personally I feel certain that what I am incubating by continuing to live here is some kind of a serious health problem. I can't just leave because I have spent my life savings building what i thought was my dream retirement home, 

Comments


  • 19 months ago

    Jamalov

    the aw-baw-taw has been just brilliant. they delivered trash cans to all the homes that do not have one and they gave them some information on the use of these cans and pickup days and so on. i am paying for them of course but i am happy to pay. and also, and this is something special, they told them that if there is anything that they still feel needs to be burned, to call the aw-baw-taw and they will pick that up and take it away. how brilliant is that? i love this country. 

  • 19 months ago

    Jamalov

    garbage truck to the rescue

  • 19 months ago

    Jamalov

    a positive development: i talked with the head of the local government and offered to pay the trash pickup monthly fee for all villagers who do not now have that service. the trash cans are being delivered and installed and the homeonwers are being advised on their use right now even as i write this comment. my guess is that some of these cans will be used and the smoke problem will be abated. 

  • 19 months ago

    Jamalov

    "Wait till you see some men on a dinking spree at the side of the streets with "Karaokes'" whose loud speakers are directed towards  different directions with volumes set to the max."

    -----------------------------------

    you know that too? amazing knowledge. you are right that the fires are also used to keep mosquitoes off their cattle in the evening. i think it is something i must learn to live with. it is a way of life that i am not used to but i can learn. thank you for your really excellent comments. 

  • 19 months ago

    konhidras

    I speak as an asian (coz i haver asian blood running through my veins). I think its kinda "customary" thing that older asians do that were passed on to the next generation as some form of habbit that even authorities dont mind the it. Its like hitting two birds with one stone, one: its destroys the garbage and two: its eliminates insects surrounding the house or withing the plants. This is usually done at the late late afternoon probably after sun down. It is really annoying but everyones doing it. Wait till you see some men on a dinking spree at the side of the streets with "Karaokes'" whose loud speakers are directed towards  different directions with volumes set to the max.

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