When Does Chiang Mai Smokey Season End?

Update 14th April: It was a false alarm, the smokey season didn’t end. In fact today it is as bad as ever at 194 AQI. This is probably as bad as it has been, I haven’t seen the readings this high. The mountain has gone again. Plus what’s worse is that nearly everyone in Chiang Mai will spend most of the day outdoors today for Songkran. Yesterday it seemed like everyone spraying water cleaned up the pollution a lot by evening, but today has started much worse.


Here is the league of PM2.5 fine particle readings complied by AirVisual:

  1. Chiang Mai, Thailand 194 (AQI)
  2. Lahore, Pakistan 177
  3. Port Harcourt, Nigeria 172
  4. Delhi, India 170
  5. Kathmandu, Nepal 168

Chiang Mai Smokey Season 2018 just ended 2 days ago after some wind and rain made the transformation in the photo below. Which means you can pretty much rely on early to mid April being the end of the burning season (lets now call it the end of April), when Chiang Mai pollution levels are often some of the very worst in the world.

when does Chiang Mai smokey season end


Chiang Mai is the unhealthiest tourist destination in the world in February, March and April

Read more

How to Survive the Smokey Season in Chiang Mai

pollution tips for Chiang Mai smokey season January to April

Every year Chiang Mai suffers from the regional pollution caused mostly by farmers burning harvest waste material. Things aren’t getting better in 2018, so here is what I have learnt in my 5 years (on and off) as an expat in Chiang Mai. This guide will help you to minimize the health damage caused by Chiang Mai smoke pollution.


Air Pollution Levels in Chiang Mai Today:

Read more

Best Climbing Movies

best rock climbing movies

20 Rock Climbing Movie Reviews

Below are 20 of the best rock climbing movies ever made. In no particular order, but each one is rated and features the trailer where available. Essentials include Reel RockFirst Ascent TV series and Asgard Jamming.   

Valley Uprising Review Reel Rock 9

Read more

Cheapest M43 Ultra Wide Angle Lens

Cheap UWA Option for Micro Four Thirds Cameras

This is a solution for those who want to take wide angle photos and videos without spending a thousand dollars on an expensive Olympus or Panasonic lens. The lens is the Panasonic 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 with the Ricoh DW-6 wide angle converter attached. This gives you a focal length of 9.5mm (12mm x 0.79).

The image above shows the combination at 9.5mm (f9). The inset image is the 12-32mm at 12mm (f3.5). With the converter attached to the lens it is best to stop the aperture down a little, although f9 was probably too much- f5.6 or f8 would have been better. As you can see the field of view is significantly wider compared to the lens alone at 12mm.

Update 26th March 2018: After re-testing the ultrawide combo I have found that diffraction kicks in at f9 and before. Therefore, I would like to change my original recommendation to f5.6 or f7.1 for the optimal aperture setting when using the wide adaptor with the wide angle zoom lens.

Also, when using the 12-32mm alone stopping it down a little to f4-5.6 is better than at f3.5. These are based on lens tests indoors, whereas the tests on this page were for objects much farther away.

I have also recently acquired the Olympus 9mm f8 body cap lens. It is surprisingly sharp and fun to use. However, when you de-fish images they are not as sharp as the Ricoh Panasonic cheap UWA option.

Sorry, no images to share as I didn’t want it to eat up too much time, but de-fishing the 9mm fisheye resulted in a slightly wider field of view compared to the 9.5mm, as expected. However, the image was noticeable less sharp, especially at the edges and there is noticeable CA (chromatic aberration). Plus getting a fisheye lens properly de-fished is not easy for someone like me who hasn’t tried before. I tried 2 fisheye softwares and neither completely fixed the distortion.

Therefore as of Spring 2018, my option is still the best value ultra wide angle lens for Micro Four Thirds camera, if you already have the 12-32mm zoom. Do keep an eye out for the SLR Magic 8mm though, as it’s price has been fluctuating between $149 and $349. At $149 it provides a solid alternative, but reviews suggest you may have to send it back for a decent copy. Today it is $149, so I would certainly give it a try if I was in a country which allowed returns, such as the USA.

This combo cost me Read more

Manchester Cat Cafe Vs London Cat Cafe Dinah’s

manchester cat caafe review

This battle of the UK’s top (and possibly only) cat cafes is based on walking past the recently opened Manchester Cat Cafe and going inside to speak with the staff. We haven’t actually had a chance to spend time with the cats yet, because it has been very popular: 3,000 people applied just to visit to spend a little time with the cats before the opening. Media has been in a frenzy over this newest cat cafe. Read more

White Peak Alpaca Farm in Mobberley Review

alpaca farm in Cheshire Mobberley review

Yesterday we visited the White Peak Alpaca Farm in Mobberley. There were no reviews online and when I went to leave one today; there was nowhere to write a review (edit: I later found the Google+ page, so perhaps it just doesn’t show on all devices).

Alpacas UK farm

Read more

Amazon Letting Marketplace Scammers Rip Off Customers

This is an outing of the incompetance of Amazon.co.uk who are letting known scam artists rip people off from Amazon.co.uk

I believe I have fairly good evidence that Amazon.co.uk is indirectly ripping people off by not stamping down on fraud. By allowing the fraudulent orders to stand, Amazon is acting highly irresponsibly (my experience today was one of indifference as you will see from the chat transcript below). Read more

The One Thing I Miss About the Philippines is Food

After leaving the West many years ago, I spent a few years living in the Philippines. It has good points and bad points. The beauty of the islands and their beaches is breathtaking at times. It is a great place to explore if your idea of paradise is white sand beaches.

Read more

New Cat Cafe in Chiang Mai

Catta Cat Cafe Chiang Mai

Update December 2017: Catta Cat Cafe is now closed, but….

However, we have a found a delightful new cat cafe in Chiang Mai called Cat Brothers Cafe. It is inside the Old City, which is great for tourists. Downstairs they have a cafe and upstairs you can mingle with the cats. Here are most of the cats from Cat Brothers Cat Cafe:


Update mid 2017: Unfortunately Catta cat cafe has closed. There is a new one which has opened inside the Old City of Chiang Mai. It is located on the inside road of the moat on the northern stretch in the North East corner (see above). It features a lovely selection of cats to play with, mostly Persians. The new Chiang Mai cat cafe is called Cat Brothers. The cats are upstairs and there is a cafe downstairs.

Read more

The Go-To Company for Care Homes in Stoke on Trent

care homes stoke on trent

This post is a recommendation for a company my family has had experience with for many years. At least three of my elderly relatives from Stoke on Trent have resided at Safe Harbor care homes over the years. All have been very happy, so I thought the company could do with a review.


care homes stoke on trent

Click image to visit Safe Harbor’s website

Two of my relatives stayed at New Park House and they love(d) it (sadly my grandpa passed away but my Mums cousin is still there). The second one stayed because the first gave such glowing reviews. Staff are pleasant and the whole place feels more like a vibrant, happy residential home rather than a place to ship off unwanted relatives.

My other relative began staying at the newer Haversham House more recently. I have visited both and they are lovely; nice touches all over the place like modern pictures on the walls and new matching furniture. I was part of the “scouting party” for this relative and other places had “that smell”, grotty furniture and carpets and dark rooms. Safe Harbor really seems to of thought things through, hence this glowing review.

The financing options for the elderly in care homes isn’t simple and I left that to others as it was complicated, but apparently Safe Harbor’s three home in the area are competitively priced. Apparently they have a fourth home on the way in Hanley in Stoke on Trent, according to the website. I shall be interested in visiting once open as there are a couple of family members who may require a care home in the not too distant future.

So that’s my little review of Safe Harbor. If you live in Staffordshire or Shropshire I highly recommend including all their homes when you visit a few for an elderly relative. I am sure you will be just as impressed as my family has been.