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The streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second city located near the northern end of the country, are nearly empty during summer middays. Most people you encounter will be tourists, backpackers and the drivers of tuk-tuks, the three-wheeled taxis that are everywhere in South East Asia. Thais know that the midday sun–or heated haze–is to be avoided.
So where are all the Thais? A great many are at home, safely shaded and cooled by those slow-motion fans that cool residents of South East Asia but provide no relief to visitors. But those Thais who need to get out of the house–especially those with some extra disposable income–head to the mall.
Recent visits to a few of the malls in Chiang Mai suggests that hotter days drive up mall visits. It’s been unseasonably warm in the last few weeks, and business is booming. If you want to profit from fear of imminent environmental doom, the mall is where to do it in Thailand.
I’m officially on vacation here in Thailand, so I haven’t bothered to find out who owns the malls or the bigger Thai stores. But I did notice a few American companies with Thai mall exposure: Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut and Duncan Donuts.
So the next time you hear about the “inconvenient question” you’ll have a convenience store answer: Long the DQ Blizzard!
–John Carney is trying to find ways stay cool in Thailand.