Pictures that Captured 2013

Pictures that Captured 2013

2013 was a busy, fun-filled year. So many things were happening all the time that I didn’t blog very much at all. Here is a photo overview highlighting some memorable moments of 2013. It’s really a summary of what could have been about 20 blog posts organized chronologically for the year. Enjoy!

Starting out on January first with old friends, Cara and Katie, in Chicago.

Starting out on January first with old friends, Cara and Katie, in Chicago.

Upon returning back to Chiang Mai, I said goodbye to the rice field in my backyard and moved into...

Upon returning back to Chiang Mai, I said goodbye to the rice field in my backyard and moved into…

...this house.

…this house in the city.

My new backyard...

My new backyard…

kitchen

kitchen

and upstairs outside patio.

and upstairs outside patio

Moving into the city exchanged quiet solitude for active social life and lots more people visiting me at my home.

Visitors of all ages

Visitors of all ages

Seeking some of the quiet beauty, Kenny and I headed north to Chiang Dao.

Seeking some of the tranquil beauty, Kenny and I headed north to Chiang Dao.

Kenny chilling in the river next to the hot springs.

Kenny chilling in the river next to the hot springs.

The weekend of 3 friend's birthdays started with Kate's 40th at The Four Seasons ooh laa laa

The weekend of 3 friend’s birthdays started with Kate’s 40th at The Four Seasons in Mae Rim. Ooh laa laa!

The celebrations continued with Rose's birthday vinyasa with Vari at Wild Rose...

The celebrations continued with Rose’s birthday vinyasa with Vari at Wild Rose Yoga Studio…

...and finished with Anthony's 30th at San Kampaeng hot springs.

…and finished with Anthony’s 30th at San Kampaeng hot springs.

Still teaching outside the city in nature at Panyaden School all day Monday – Friday, living in the city has helped balance out my former semi-reclusive life with a lot more time with friends.

To make students aware of where their food comes from, we took a field trip to a rice mill.

To make students aware of where their food comes from, we took a field trip to a rice mill.

A plus about my house in the city is knowing the neighbors. An afternoon of haircuts by Guillaume, with Christophe, Rose, and Felicity, in my neighbor Christophe's backyard.

A plus about my house in the city is knowing the neighbors. An afternoon of haircuts by Guillaume, with Christophe, Rose, and Felicity, in my neighbor Christophe’s backyard.

After doing a fun run for Burmese refugees in the morning, I headed to Pai for a 3-day weekend in late February for some time to read and relax.

After doing a fun run for Burmese refugees in the morning, I headed to Pai for a 3-day weekend in late February for some time to read and relax by myself.

The school year ended mid-March before Chiang Mai gets too smoky and hot. This was one group of projects - making their own vehicle.

The school year ended mid-March before Chiang Mai got too smoky and hot. This was one group student of projects – making their own vehicles.

Friends of Panyaden (our school's PTA with me representing the T part) had an end of the year picnic at the 'sticky waterfalls'.

Friends of Panyaden (our school’s PTA, with me representing the T part) had an end of the year picnic at the ‘sticky waterfall’.

'The sticky waterfall' is an unusual type of rock formation that doesn't allow the rocks to become slippery. It is possible to walk up the waterfall, even for children. Pretty cool indeed.

‘The sticky waterfall’ is an unusual type of rock formation that doesn’t allow the rocks to become slippery. It is possible to walk up the waterfall, even for children. Very cool indeed.

Birthday flowers

An array of purple hues: birthday flowers, pretty lights, and lanna weaving.

Christophe and I went to Chiang Dao for his birthday, also in mid-March, but it was getting very smoky.

Christophe and I took a holiday in Chiang Dao for his birthday, also in mid-March, but it was getting very smoky.

To escape the smoke in the end of March, it was time to head south.

To escape the smoke of Northern Thailand in the end of March, it was time to head south.

Pong and I headed to a little island.

Pong and I headed to a little island.

Our bamboo beach hut

Our bamboo beach hut

and inside

Inside our bamboo bungalow

colorful crabs

colorful crabs

beautiful beaches

beautiful beaches

perplexing pirate ships

perplexing pirate ships

This is how cashew nuts grow. It's just the part on the end of a big fruit. They need to be harvested individually, the nut is then cut from the fruit, shelled, and dried. Quite a process. It explains why they're expensive.

This is how cashew nuts grow. It’s just the part on the end of a big fruit. They need to be harvested individually, the nut is then cut from the fruit, shelled, and dried. Quite a process. It explains why they’re expensive.

Caring for an injured hornbill

Caring for an injured hornbill

Thai style ceviche

Thai style ceviche

Cute girls on a swing

Cute girls on a swing

Our canine travel companion

Our canine travel companion

And the nightly beautiful sunset made me want to stay on that special place for a long time. Thai 'summer' school break was coming to an end, and almost 3 weeks on the beach with no internet, it was time to return to Chiang Mai.

And the nightly beautiful sunsets made me want to stay in that special place for a long time. Thai ‘summer’ school break was coming to an end, and after almost 3 weeks on the beach with no internet, it was time to return to the Chiang Mai heat of mid-April…

Just in time for Songkran, Thai New Year and water throwing festival. Alana laughing with Pong, who is  armed and ready.

Just in time for Songkran, Thai New Year and water throwing festival. Alana laughing with Pong, who is armed and ready.

This is who might soak you during Songkran.

This is who might soak you during Songkran.

Starting the new school year in May, my students wrote brochures on what they like to do in Chiang Mai province. This student gives clever tips on how to stay dry during Songkran.

Starting the new school year in May, my students wrote brochures on what they like to do in Chiang Mai province. This student gives clever tips on how to stay dry during Songkran.

Bekkah gives me a yogic lift

Bekkah gives me a yogic lift

Dogs on motorbikes never cease to amuse me.

Dogs on motorbikes never cease to amuse me.

Here are some of my ceramic pieces, glazed but not fired.

Rekindling an old passion, I took ceramic classes on the weekends. Here are some of my pieces, glazed but not fired.

My outstanding ceramics teacher Jern, showing me trimming techniques.

My outstanding ceramics teacher Jern, showing me trimming techniques.

High tea with Alana at the Chedi

High tea with Alana at the Chedi. More food than we can eat.

Pong and Rose having a laugh over kanom jeen at Chiang Mai Gate.

Pong and Rose having a laugh over kanom jeen at Chiang Mai Gate.

Backyard blooming lotus

Backyard blooming lotus in June

This stunning creature devoured most of my African Mask plants.

This stunning creature devoured most of my African Mask plants.

When I took my car to the mechanic because it was overheating, he fixed the engine problem. He was a better mechanic than driver, because he returned my car like this after he ran into my friend's car.

When I took my car to the mechanic because it was overheating, he fixed the engine problem. He was a better mechanic than driver, because he returned my car like this after he ran into my friend’s car. Don’t worry, he’ll fix it.

To learn about Thai culture and history, we took a field trip to a 700 year old temple in Chiang Mai

To learn about Thai culture and history, we took a field trip to a 700 year old temple in Chiang Mai.

Wat Jed Yot

Wat Jed Yot

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On those sultry summer days, a Thai tea really hits the spot.

On those sultry summer days in July, a Thai tea really hits the spot.

A week off in the end of July took me to these turquoise waters of the coast of Ko Adang National Park

Kru Jeab captivating her K2 students at Panyaden.

A week off in the end of July took me to these turquoise waters of the coast of Ko Adang National Park.

A week off in the end of July took me to these turquoise waters off the coast of Ko Adang National Park.

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Lovely Mon Chaem

Lovely Mon Chaem just north of Chiang Mai

One of the coolest insects I've ever seen. Anyone know what this iridescent orange turtle shaped beetle thing is called?

One of the coolest insects I’ve ever seen. Anyone know what this iridescent orange, turtle shaped beetle thing is called?

Planting rice with Kru Neung on Thai Mother's Day, August 5th.

Planting rice with Kru Neung and our students on Thai Mother’s Day, August 5th.

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We will eventually eat this rice at school.

We will eventually eat this rice at school.

The green season is sure is beautiful. View from Panyaden.

The green season sure is lovely. View from Panyaden School.

To make Panyaden even more beautiful we thought we'd attract some more birds by building them houses.

To make Panyaden even more beautiful, we thought we’d attract some more birds by building them houses.

My nickname has made it to Thailand!

My nickname has made it to Thailand!

Detail of the silver wat

Detail of the silver wat in Chiang Mai.

Surfing in Chiang Mai at Art in Paradise.

Surfing in Chiang Mai at Art in Paradise.

Pong gets some wine

Pong gets some wine

Good thing I had the bridge the little kid didn't quite make it.

Good thing I had the bridge. The little kid didn’t quite make it.

October outside of Pai

October in the countryside outside of Pai

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Spirit house Samui

Spirit house Samui

Fantastic Thai massage in the most unlikely spot - on the beach in Ko Samui.

Fantastic Thai massage from Pi Niam in an unlikely spot – on the beach in Ko Samui.

My day of luxury at Saree Samui

My day of luxury at Saree Samui

The lovely new detail to my gate.

The lovely new detail to my gate.

A day out at Huay Tung Tao with Rowan

An October day out at Huay Tung Tao with Rowan

Acroyoga in the park with Emily

Acroyoga in the park with Emily

Acroyoga in my living room with Emily, Zahara, Neko, and Vari.

Acroyoga in my living room with Emily, Zahara, Neko, and Vari.

Leading my students on a walking meditation.

Leading my students on a walking meditation at Panyaden

Taking the students hiking and playing in the river at our Doi Inthanon overnight field trip.

Taking the students hiking and playing in the river at our Doi Inthanon overnight field trip.

Moths of unusal size at Doi Inthanon National Park.

Moths of unusal size

Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon trip

Near the top of the highest point in Thailand

Near the top of the highest point in Thailand, Doi Inthanon

Hike at Doi Inthanon

Hike at Doi Inthanon

Making Krathongs at Panyaden for Loy Krathong

In November we made krathongs at Panyaden for Loy Krathong

Students dancing for Loy Krathong

Students dancing for Loy Krathong

Letting my Krathong go.

Letting my krathong go

Floating krathongs on the lake at Panyaden.

Floating krathongs on the lake at Panyaden.

The Yee Peng festival at Mae Jo University. 10,000 komloys let off at once.

The Yee Peng festival at Mae Jo University. 10,000 komloys let off at once.

Lauren and I made our own krathongs to float on the Ping river.

Lauren and I made our own krathongs to float on the Ping river for Loy Krathong

Kenny and I let off a komloy from a rooftop in Chiang Mai.

Letting off a komloy from a rooftop in Chiang Mai with Kenny.

Funny signs in Chiang Mai (there are lots of these - blog post coming soon).

Funny signs in Chiang Mai (there are lots of these – blog post coming soon).

Kate and I thinking we might have an Owen Wilson sighting as they film The Coup in Chiang Mai. Alas, we didn't see him.

Kate and I thinking we might have an Owen Wilson sighting as they film The Coup in Chiang Mai. Alas, we didn’t see him.

I had about 30 people to my house for Thanksgiving dinner. This is only a small part of the feast.

I had about 30 people to my house for Thanksgiving dinner. This is only a small part of the feast.

Some of the Thanksgiving friends, Abby, Mark, Jessica, Sara, and Balaram.

Some of the Thanksgiving friends, Abby, Mark, Jessica, Sarra, and Balaram.

Amazing insect

Amazing insect

'Iron chef' cooking competition at our Doi Inthanon staff outing.

‘Iron chef’ judges tasting our creations for the cooking competition at our Doi Inthanon staff outing.

No question that nature is the best artist. Unbelievable chrysalis.

No question that nature is the best artist. Unbelievable chrysalis.

Father's Day rice harvest, December 5th.

Father’s Day rice harvest with Kru Jan on December 5th.

Does Kenny have happy saliva? NAP fair in Chiang Mai.

Does Kenny have happy saliva? NAP fair in Chiang Mai.

Beautiful Chiang Dao at Yang Tone Farmstay.

Beautiful Chiang Dao at Yang Tone Farmstay.

Super smily girl in the hot spring.

Super smily girl in the hot spring.

Teachers and students raising money for the Philippines.

Teachers and students at Panyaden raising money for the Philippines by singing.

Our staff costume party. The theme was a childhood book character. I won second prize, probably because I spoke in rhyme.

Our staff costume party. The theme was a childhood book character. I won second prize, probably because I spoke in rhyme.

Cat in the Hat and Snow White/zombie.

Cat in the Hat and Snow White/zombie.

Silly breakfast shot at Good Morning Chiang Mai with Joe, Zsa Zsa, Johnny, Rose, Lorenzo, and Emily.

Silly breakfast shot at Good Morning Chiang Mai with Joe, Zsa Zsa, Johnny, Rose, Lorenzo, and Emily.

Fun day out in Warorot Market and at Thamel Tea House with Rose.

Fun day out in Warorot Market and at Thamel Tea House with Rose.

Fun to see Armando, who I met here two years ago, and meet his girlfriend.

Fun to see Armando, who I met here two years ago, and meet his girlfriend.

Lovely, yet chilly, Ayurveda and yoga retreat at Om Waters.

Lovely, yet chilly, Ayurveda and yoga retreat at Om Waters.

Yoga at Om Waters

Yoga at Om Waters

Angie, Dao, Heather, Balaram, Yan, Hannah, Sarra, Rose and Surya for our Om Waters retreat.

Angie, Dao, Heather, Balaram, Yan, Hannah, Sarra, Rose and Surya for our Om Waters retreat

Temple dogs

Temple dogs in sweaters

Having old friends Dan and Mila visit for Christmas.

Having old friends Dan and Mila visit for Christmas

Dan and PJ jamming silly songs in Chiang Dao.

Dan and PJ jamming silly songs in Chiang Dao

Happy birthday PJ in Chiang Dao.

Happy birthday PJ in Chiang Dao. Very chilly December 28th.

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Lots of love and gratitude to everyone who made 2013 such a wonderful year. Happy 2014!

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Kalaw and the Start of the Trek to Inle Lake

Kalaw and the Start of the Trek to Inle Lake

After a lovely time in Bagan, Mark and I took the morning bus to Kalaw and surprisingly arrived in the early afternoon. We ascended to the mountain village of Kalaw. Mountains in South East Asia are not that high in altitude, but at 1,300 meters Kalaw was significantly cooler than anywhere else we’d been in Burma. We checked in to our room at the basic, but pleasant Eastern Paradise and spent the better part of the afternoon looking for our trekking guide to take us on the 3 day trek to Inle Lake. Although guides at Ever Smile were lovely, there was a traveler who we’d have been trekking with who made some racist comments and was anti-everything. Because of her, not Ever Smile, we sought out other options. We ended up going with Sam’s Trekking, who were also kind and informative. There, we met an adorable French couple with whom we’d be trekking and that sealed the deal.

After that, it was time to explore the town and figure out how to creatively wash and hang out laundry to dry. (I add this mundane detail because clothes washing in sinks and other basins, then hanging clothes to dry on any string, wire, nail, chair in front of a fan, etc. is such an integral part of travel that isn’t ever mentioned in the guidebooks.)

Temple in Kalaw

Temple in Kalaw

Mark wanted a haircut and was happy to go the Fashion: Hair and Make-up Saloom, but alas, it was closed.

Mark wanted a haircut and was happy to go Fashion J Hair and Make-up Saloom, but alas, it was closed.

This is how clothes are ironed in Kalaw.

This is how clothes are ironed in Kalaw. Yep, that’s an iron with hot coals inside and a hand cranked fan to heat them up.

For dinner we feasted at Myanmar Food Place. Plenty of plates were served after ordering only 2 dishes. When there was a power outage, no one blinked an eye (well, they might have and I wouldn't have been able to see them), but rather pulled out flash lights and continued dining and working as usual.

For dinner we feasted at a restaurant with the uninspired name – Myanmar Food Place. Plenty of plates were served after ordering only 2 dishes. When there was a power outage, no one blinked an eye (well, they might have, but I wouldn’t have been able to see them), but rather pulled out flashlights and continued dining and working as usual. With power outages a common as they are in SE Asia, we’re all used to it.

At before heading back to our hotel, we wanted to get a beer. The was a bar called 'Hi' with some kind of rough looking local characters. It was really the only place in town so we walked in. Mark saunters up to the bar and orders a beer in Burmese. The bartender looks stunned, then Mark looks at the hard rock video on the TV and asks, "Iron Cross?" The men at the bar smile. We're in. Thank you Mark for your incredible linguistic abilities and ability to remember random details. Iron Cross is one of the most popular bands in Burma. In case you're ever in a similar situation, fell free to name drop Iron Cross.

Before heading back to our hotel, we wanted to get a beer. There was a tiny bar called ‘Hi’ with some slightly rough looking local characters inside. It was really the only bar in town so we walked in. Mark saunters up to the bar and orders a beer in Burmese. The bartender looked stunned. Next, Mark glances at the hard rock video on the TV and asks, “Iron Cross?” The men at the bar smile. We’re in! Thank you Mark for your incredible linguistic skills and ability to remember random details. Iron Cross is one of the most popular bands in Burma. In case you’re ever in a similar situation, feel free to name drop Iron Cross, it seemed to help.

The next morning we left Kalaw and started our trek through the rice fields...

The next morning we left Kalaw and started our trek through the rice fields…

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...and up the mountain.

…and up the mountain.

This didn't look good.

This didn’t look good.

We stopped with the guide to see if they needed help, but they claimed to be fine. Hmm, looks pretty stuck to me.

We stopped with the guide to see if they needed help, but they claimed to be fine. Hmm, looks pretty stuck to me.

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Orange trees?

Orange trees?

Here was our first rest stop.

Here was our first rest stop.

Me resting with a view.

Resting with a view.

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Tea leaves out to dry

Tea leaves out to dry

Obligatory shot of chickens and chicks for Wendy.

Obligatory shot of chickens and chicks for Wendy.

Kalaw and the beginning of this trek reminded me a lot of Nepal. It came as no surprise that the people here were Nepali.

Kalaw, and the beginning of this trek, reminded me a lot of Nepal. It came as no surprise that the people here at this rest stop were Nepali.

Making chapati.

Making chapati.

Our trekking companions Than and Tomas.

Our trekking companions Than and Tomas.

Ode to Portland

Ode to Portland

And we were off down the trail

And we were off down the trail

Hill tribe village

Hill tribe village

Happy children

Happy children

Piggies

Piggies

Sifting the tea leaves

Sifting the tea leaves

lunch

lunch

Tea leaves being gently roasted

Tea leaves being gently roasted

Another hill tribe village

Another hill tribe village

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Amazingly, for I think the first time ever, I captured a butterfly in flight on film. It was the size of a small bird.

Amazingly, for the first time ever, I captured a butterfly in flight on film. You can see the wing as it’s flapping. It was the size of a small bird.

The clay pots filled with drinking water were available even here.

The clay pots filled with drinking water were available even here.

The train passing through

Train passing through the rural landscape

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Children walking home from school

Children walking home from school

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I don't think I'll ever tire of looking at terraced rice fields. So vibrantly green!

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of looking at terraced rice fields. So vibrantly green!

The best way to carry a basket.

The best way to carry a basket.

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Arriving at the train station

Arriving at the train station

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Zoom out

Zoom out – I love this shot!

Zoom in...

Zoom in.

Amazing face

Amazing face

Aha. This baby saw me, and who knows why (maybe the blonde hair and blue eyes), but he couldn't stop laughing.

Aha. This baby saw me, and who knows why (maybe the blonde hair and blue eyes), but he couldn’t stop laughing.

He laughed and laughed.

He laughed and laughed. It was absolutely adorable.

How cute is that laugh?

There's just something special about trains, isn't there?

There’s just something special about trains, isn’t there?

I think these guys think so too.

It seems these guys think so too.

Tightly wrapped baby

Tightly wrapped baby

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Than and Tomas eating the delicious cake that, sadly, we'd never find again in Burma

Than and Tomas eating the delicious cake that, sadly, we’d never find again in Burma

Friendly dogs

Friendly dogs

Back to the rice field

Back to the rice field

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I forgot to mention that Mark decided to do this 22 kilometer day of trekking with no shoes. Then it started to rain and we all began to slip and slide through on the muddy trail.

I forgot to mention that Mark decided to do this 22 kilometer day of trekking with no shoes. Then it started to rain and we all began to slip and slide through on the muddy trail. The no shoe option might have been better at this point.

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Lovely rice terraces

Lovely rice terraces after the rain. Don’t worry, I’m aware that I have a slight obsession with rice fields.

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Temple in the distance as the sun began to set.

Temple in the distance as the sun began to set

Bridge and rice field to lead us to our destination for the night after a 22 kilometer trek.

Bridge and rice field to lead us to our destination for the night after a 22 kilometer trek.

After dinner, despite the large spiders in our homestay, we fell asleep immediately just after the sun set. We still had 2 more days of trekking to go.

Unholy Smoke!

Unholy Smoke!

Air Pollution in Chiang Mai

These days when watching the sunset, it appears as a pink circle in the sky. The haze in the sky allows me to look directly at the sun without hurting my eyes. Initially, I liked the smoky scent in the air, but nowadays not so much.

This is the pink circle sunset of smoky days

This was the same un-smoky scene weeks before.

I remember the sky with smoke in the air and the haziness from when I was here 12 years ago. I had no idea that the mountains were there in Pai, nor did I know the mountains were so close to Chiang Mai, I couldn’t see them because of the smoke.

Lately the smoke has been in the news: Index of 118. Unhealthy for sensitive groups.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Dangerous-haze-in-six-provinces-PCD-30176702.html

Dangerous haze in six provinces: The Nation on Sunday February 26, 2012 1:00 am

“Six provinces in the Upper North were covered by unsafe levels of haze, the Pollution Control Department reported yesterday.

Chief of Chiang Mai’s environmental office 1 Apiwat Kunarak said the overall fine-particle dust situation was bad this year and might prove to be worse than 2007 for eight northern provinces in the long term. Some places had already endured seven or eight days of unsafe fine-particle dust – compared to two or three days of unsafe readings at most places in 2007.

Apiwat said the situation was the result of people continuing to disregard authorities’ request to stop outdoor burning, especially farmers clearing fields.

Chiang Mai Public Health deputy official Dr Surasing Wisarutrat said officials had asked schools not to make students line up outdoors for the morning flag-raising routine and would issue a formal letter tomorrow seeking their cooperation.

Some 50,000 face masks were also dispatched to 25 district hospitals for distribution to respiratory patients, he said.”

Whoa! Not good!

The haze over the 9 March 2555.  (FYI 2555 is the year 2012 in Thailand, it is Buddhist time 543 years before Christ)

“The results of air quality monitoring in the Northern Hemisphere on March 9, 2555 the amount of particles larger than 10 microns  24-hour average ranged from 58.8 to 384.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Can have an impact on health.

Pollution Control Department Asked the concerned authorities to take measures to reduce and control the fire in the open. No burning of forests and forest fires. The cooperation of the public not to burn garbage, agricultural waste, twigs, grass, etc., to reduce the severity of the situation caused by smog.”

That’s really not good at all! I would like to find a way to work with Thai people to educate some rural folks about the hazards of burning. We may focus on that with the students next year. It needs to come from Thai people…and it already is:

a sign near Chiang Mai

Not only is it in the news, it’s been taking its toll on some colleagues, students, and me. In singing the Thai national anthem, all the students are encouraged to wear face masks.

Some of our little students wearing face masks because of the smoke pollution. (That’s a hug, not a punch 🙂

It’s super hazy. My throat has a bad scratchy and a taste of something weird and metallic in it. My eyes are red and starting to burn. I may need to close the windows. It’s pretty bad to say the least.

End of February bad smoke

March 10th smoke view

March 12,2012: It’s raining!! Hooray! Perhaps some of this smoke will clear.

Eventually things get back to normal and I can see the rice fields clearly.

Good to know air pollution is only a temporary seasonal event in Thailand. I hope that with education, the burning decreases. Taking a look at the students and curriculum of our school, I have a tremendous amount of hope for the future.