monks-at-our house-blessingNoise. I remember when I thought Thailand was loud. A friend of mine has a visitor visiting and she mentioned how her guest house is loud. Or at least the surroundings are. And so as we walked around town I thought about how I used to think Thailand was loud too.

We walked by the school that she believes is the culprit. Then we continued past a parking lot where a stage had been set up. Some guy in pink was singing to an audience of people and plastic chairs. It was loud.

I thought about the temple bells, the PA system speakers that seem to haunt the streets of Chiang Mai blaring out the Thai anthem every 8am and 6pm. The motorbikes, the karaoke and the PA systems that also announce the news and strange music during seemingly random times of the day. I feel like I am in my own science fiction novel or movie living in a society that spoon feeds its residents, possibly brainwashing them without their knowledge.

Part of the reason why I moved 15minutes out of the city is to get away from the noise. But a municipal building has since been erected and now I hear a great many announcements. Sometimes I am convinced the PA system is broken because they play the same song over and over again. During holidays the announcements become more frequent and since today is a holiday, I guess that is why I am hearing the latest selection of music well before the appointed 6pm anthem.

When I’m in Lamphun during a celebration there is the obligatory stage of dancing girls with music on full volume. I can hear the music in my head because I swear on the Holy Bible they play the same songs over and again. Then there are the advertisement trucks, shouting deals, steals and sales, or the Muay Thai trucks informing us when the next fight will be. I’ve decided the announcer sounds like Count Dracula from Sesame Street and this makes me giggle.

The ice cream carts and traveling street vendors also produce their own brand of music letting us know, like when we were kids, that the ice cream truck is on our street. Living quarters are also build closer together and if you are fortunate enough to live in a building where you can’t hear your neighbors, your friends consider you lucky cat lucky.

Oh and I can’t believe I have forgotten this but the noise in the distance has reminded me, there is always construction noise, chatter and clamor. Somewhere you can be certain that someone is cutting cement and the shrill of that tune is a common one in Chiang Mai.

Nature is also very loud here. And I’m not talking about the pack of soi dogs that howl at the temple bells, the moon or lonely bark in the distance.

Maybe all this yakety-yak echoes the noise in our heads. Or maybe this is just culture in motion, a kind of progress like a motorboat moving across the water. I suppose the United States will sound like a whisper the next time I am there but I can’t imagine moving back. Strange, isn’t it?

Thailand may be a firecracker but my passport country feels like a fuse that never ends, you just follow the flame and wait for the BOOM. I can’t say that I like all the noise here. I’m really a quiet kind of gal but I’ve gotten used to it. I’m more tolerant and I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, maybe both.

4 replies on “Sounds like Thailand

  1. Yesterday morning we were at a hotel in Lampang. The hotel was full of Thai tourists — there were several big buses parked out back when we went to bed. At 7:30 am those buses had been moved forward, next to our 1st floor window, to begin what turned out to be a one-hour loading session. The guys helping were drinking beer and playing rock music, very loud rock music. We were awake already but I'm sure there were others in that big hotel who wanted to sleep a bit later. Tough luck for them!Now, it is nice that Thais are so understanding and all but this was over the top IMO. What I don't understand is why the hotel management allows this sort of thing to go on — especially seeing as the workers were drinking.Needless to say, you could never get away with this in the states, or many other places in the world. But, this is Thailand after all and I suppose one must learn accept such punishment now and again. Like the Thai people often do.”Sounds like Thailand”. Quite.


  2. Hi Lani,Again you touch an interesting topic.All that noise, even in your retreat. That sounds bad. Now I'm in Holland for a small 'vacation' and noticed how silent it actually is here. That is to say I have mixed feelings when the church bells on Sunday ring, which on one side remind me of of a happy past, but at the same time sound a bit eerie too. Perhaps I find it somewhat repressive towards people of other faiths. Thailand is very noisy indeed and locals don't seem to mind, so I try to blend in.I read that there seems to be a proportional relation in how relaxed people are and the ability to filter out background noise. Here in my hotel is a bit eccentric guest and since I'm always interested in offbeat people, we got to talk. He told me he prefered silence and during summer lives in a tent in the forest. I happened to notice that he was unable to handle multiple sound sources. So during the conversation in the cafΓ© downstairs, he asked to turn the music off. (Which didn't happen) Also no one could interrupt if he talked or tried to listen.During the conversation he needed silence breaks and when they played a song which he liked, one was supposed to keep quiet. Needless to say it would be hard for him to survive in a city let alone in the Land Of Sounds..


  3. Life gets noisier and noisier and I don't think this is for the best. You can't close your ears. I mean ear plugs can be your dear friend but it's not the same.Actually the noise I can't stand the MOST are loud mufflers from those big motorcycles. It's the one thing…drives me crazy. Pun intended.


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