Jerebu

Jerebu is the Malay word for haze. Yes, my friends, we are in the middle of the haze season for this year in Malaysia. It has been for two decades now that we get this annual “gift” from our neighboring country just across the Straits of Malacca. In fact, some say that for quite awhile now, Malaysia has our very own four seasons every year: durian season, dengue season, flood season, and haze season.

I think Penang has been hit less seriously compared to the southern states of Malaysia and Singapore as far as the haze is concerned. That doesn’t mean we don’t get it though. We do have our fair share of days when it got really bad too.

I thought it was worst two weekends ago, but I was wrong. Two weekends ago, the haze was visible through my naked eye, but it did not show up on camera. Apparently my Sony Xperia Z3’s camera has a very good haze filtering system. Too bad camera filter does not work the same way as real life air filter.

Today though, the haze got bad enough that they finally showed up even on camera.

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Like I said, my camera has a good haze filtering system. So it actually looks 10 times worse than what you see in the pictures here. In fact, the visibility on the Jelutong Expressway was almost like when it was raining heavily. Except this time, turning on the windscreen viper does nothing to help. I was scared enough to turn on the headlamps on broad daylight.

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Georgetown was unusually deserted in the afternoon. Well, okay, not exactly deserted, but less than half of the usual amount of cars and people were on the streets. I felt bad watching a handful of tourists braving the haze to persist on their sightseeing. I guess I can understand, they spent a chunk of money coming on a vacation and it would be extremely frustrating to be forced to remain indoors.

I noticed some of them didn’t even have a mask on. That was bad. I wonder if they did not know where to find masks, or if the masks were all sold out. I wonder if hotels and hostels operators do stock up on masks to distribute to their lodgers on bad haze days like today. They should, in my opinion. It is the least they can do. It might leave a good impression on the tourists.

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I was having lunch with a couple of friends in a mall just now, and one of them said: “I really hate this stupid haze, now I can only go for a walk or a jog at night!“. I was perplexed with this statement, so I probed further. And she said: “Because only at night we cannot see any haze and the sky clears up lah!

Goodness me… she thought just because you cannot see the haze, it means the haze is gone. I suppose she would be someone who could believe the Earth is the center of the universe and the Sun revolves around our planet, because that is what it seems to our naked eyes. I wonder if she is just klutzy, or if the haze has damaged parts of her brain.

Other than having lunch, I am remaining indoors. I’ve brought my table and laptop out to the living room now, directly beneath the ceiling fan. I’m inspired to science the shit out of this too after watching Matt Damon do it in Mars last night. The haze is so bad that it gets into the house too, and I can smell it. That’s why I am now sitting beneath the ceiling fan and setting it to maximum speed. The spinning fan creates some sort of a wind barrier around me to keep the haze out. I’m sort of in a mini sanctuary, I guess.

I hope you guys are having a good weekend. And to my fellow Malaysians and also Singaporeans, take care of yourself and drink lots of water, we need to tough this out for probably another month and a half I guess…

18 Comments

  1. Yes, definitely drink more water and stay safe. I still remember hazy episodes like these in Malaysia and Singapore, and sometimes there would be no school for the day. Hopefully it rains at some point to clear some of the haze up, but then again, it’s not rainy season yet.

    We rarely get haze in Australia. Sometimes in the summer there might be a massive bushfire somewhere in the state and it will get hazy in the city centre for about a day but that’s about it – and probably two or three times a year at most. It was 34’C today and it’s not summer yet, so maybe we might get more hazy days this year :/

    • I think the good thing is in Australia, the fire started not by human doing, and you guys really work hard to contain it. Here, it is due to deliberate human setting fire on the forests, and they will not even try to work hard to contain it until they have burnt all they need (want). That’s why it gets out of control so frequently (all the time).

      • Ohhh noooo… In the news each summer, we usually hear that the bushfires are deliberately started and eventually they will say they arrested someone over it 😐 But some of the fires aren’t, and probably started by some electric spark. But either way, the firefighters work hard to contain it, and if I am not wrong, most of them are volunteers.

        • That’s news to me. I guess I have been reading mostly immigrant blogs instead of Australian news, apparently the bloggers think bushfires in Australia are all caused by nature. But it’s great that there are people who work hard to contain it. Over here you get the stinking feeling that they DON’T want to contain it, because ultimately they want whatever it is they are burning to finish burning.

  2. Haze is just terrible. Here ineurope I never experienced anything like that till my first trip to China….
    Anyways, what does this “Lah” mean in the end of many sentences I read/ hear so often?

    • Lah has no specific meaning, it is just something that Malaysians/Singaporeans add at the end of our spoken sentences. I don’t really know how to explain it in English. I guess we adapted from the Chinese language. If you can read Mandarin (or get your wife to explain to you), it is basically 啦, as in, ζˆ‘δΈθ¦ε•¦οΌŒεˆ«ε†ζ¬Ίθ΄Ÿζˆ‘δΊ†ε•¦…

  3. OMG! I just had a good laugh of your 4 Seasons description. So precise for our country.
    The haze saw many suffering days in KL for us. My sensitive eyes are killing me, not to mention the shocks to my lungs.
    Next year I should import some cheap brand less air purifier to sell so that more homes can afford la.

    • It wasn’t my original, the four seasons description. I saw someone post those pictures on Facebook too.

      This weekend really sucks. Just now there was a hint of rain, but then… nothing. I am slowly suffocating in my house right now. πŸ™

  4. The haze is just as bad here in KL but the other day it rained heavily so we got a break from the haze for just a few hours only and it was back with a vengeance. So did you set your friend right? Did you tell her at night the haze is also there and she can hurt her lungs if she goes jogging without a mask?

    • Of course I did. But she didn’t seem too convinced. Or rather, she seemed dazed with this revelation. I hope she doesn’t continue to take night jogs in the haze.

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