Southeast Asia is one of these areas that is growing fast, and it is a busy place, everywhere, regardless of the environment. Actually, they couldn’t care less about it, but it is true that we do with what we’ve got.
In many situations, you will be facing the non stopping assaults of pollution and dust. The old diesel trucks and buses from back in the fifties will make your lungs remember them with the help of thick and toxic smokes that will make you feel like you have your head inside of an industrial chimney.
To that, you may add a cloud, I mean, a storm of dust, sent up by the smooth passage of these doomsday machines, and if you thought you’d make any good to your bronchi because you just quit smoking, think different. This is Asia.
In addition to the acrid and dusty smell barely breathable that Asia provides you, other kinds of pollution will soon play with all of your senses.
Good news if you are a bit deaf, the loud noise of the engines whose exhaust seems lacking in silencer will make you less suffer.
And if you thought you’ve seen everything, I mean, smelled with the black smokes from the exhausts, the pile of food waste lying on the ground at the end of the day and who got a good sunbath will remind you that we eat shrimps and fish sauce here.
The pollution you will be dealing with
- Black smokes from trucks and buses
- The noise, barely bearable caused by these same trucks and buses
- The long-tail boats noise with open air engines, as well as the exhaust
- The fishy acrid smells that may pop up from anywhere
- The sweet lullabby every time you step through a 7-eleven door
- The dust mixed to the air you are breathing
The situations of pollution
- You are seating at the back of a Songthaew (also called a shared taxi), breathing at the same time everything that comes out of the exhaust (a thick black smoke). And watch out in the hills, when the driver goes full throttle.
- You are riding a cycle and you are behind a big truck. You may want to start a 2 minutes countdown. When the time’s up, you’re down.
- You are wandering in a 10,000+ inhabitants city
- You are aboard a long-tail boat
- You are in Cambodia, the paradise of dust
Unfortunately, not so many solutions, maybe you can try wearing earplugs and breath with scuba diving gear (not very handy though).
The only acceptable solution that I think of is to bring with you paper masks. It is actually quiet common to wear those here, the thing is, you kinda look like a surgeon but hey, what do you want to breathe ? If I had to do this again, I would definitely wear those masks.