Chiang Mai businessman opens world’s first ‘air restaurant’ in famous city of smog

A humorous look at the serious topic of Thailand’s poor air quailty

By Makin Melungsurt (Special News Correspondent)

With the eyes, ears and noses of the world focused firmly on the news that the picturesque town of Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand, officially has the worst air pollution in the world, local businessman, Hee Choo-Air-Alot, has found a silver lining, hidden in the clouds of smog pouring into the city.

In what is believed to be a global first, Choo-Air-Alot has opened a restaurant giving customers access to what he says, is: “a soup of delicious, naturally occurring nutrients, not available anywhere else on the planet.”

For only five hundred baht — about fifteen dollars — for five minutes exposure, customers can enjoy access to a range of specially selected, smog-laden airs, sourced from various parts of the city, delivered through modified oxygen masks, in the comfort of his air-conditioned restaurant, situated on the edge of Chiang Mai’s sleepy Loi Kroh road.

Golden Gate bridge in smog - Rob Gregory Author

View this morning from Nawarat Bridge, Chiang Mai.

“During the day, we are only able to serve brown air, referring to the grading system used by the International Air Quality Index system. However, for those who choose to dine with us during the evening hours, we are pleased to be able to offer a wider selection, including purple, red and orange air,” said Choo-Air-Alot, somewhat surprisingly speaking through a full-face respirator, of the type normally worn by soldiers during gas attacks. “We have had some interest from customers wanting to try green air, but frankly, there’s nothing at all in that, so I can’t see it really taking off,” he added, offering our intrepid on-site intern, Carcy Nogen, a free sample of what appeared to be pale-grey air, trapped in a glass jar.

When challenged that the air he was selling was, in fact, loaded with a mixture of highly toxic micro-particles, laced with unhealthy levels of carbon dioxide, Choo-Air-Alot was quick to offer an alternative view.

“This happens every year in Chiang Mai, so I think that you have to look at it as being a natural phenomenon. And we know for a fact, that people love natural products, so how can this possibly be harmful to them? Also, carbon is an essential component of the human body, so having access to it in the form of teeny-tiny particles, surely means that it is quicker and easier for people to digest and that’s got to be a good thing, for today’s sophisticated diner in a hurry.”

Chiang Mai street, showing smog in the air - Rob Gregory Author

Typical steet scene in Chiang Mai today. Believe it or not, there are hills in the distance!

Thailand’s Pollution Control Department, which is charged with controlling pollution, is believed to be blaming the poor air quality on a massive influx of cigarette and pipe smokers into the region, rather than farmers burning off stubble in preparation for next year’s harvest, or rural fire crews allegedly starting forest fires, in order to justify their continued existence, dismissing the latter claims as ‘ludicrous and without any basis in fact’.

Not that it matters to Choo-Air-Alot. “As far as I’m concerned, bad air equals good business. And after all, the health of the local economy has to be worth more than the health of its citizens. Here’s to the next two months. Cheers!”


BREAKING NEWS: Unfortunately, just after this story went to press, Hee Choo-Air-Alot’s pioneering establishment was closed down by Thai Restaurant Inspectors, when they found an unacceptably low number of cockroaches in his kitchen. We’ll keep you updated on developments, as they unfold…


PS. If you enjoyed this story, then why not check out more of my blogs here and have a look at my books, now including The Lucius Chronicles and Drynwideon, the world’s first anti-fantasy novel.