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.
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.
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.
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…