Asia Travel

The Sounds of Thailand

Chapter Five

Location: Thailand

Throughout my two months in the beautiful country of Thailand I have been acutely aware of how different it sounds.

I am listening. Maybe for the first time. And I am sensing sounds much different from what I’ve known before.

I attribute some of my elevated hearing sense to the fact that I am outside everyday, nearly all day, and therefore more susceptible to the sounds of life all around. It’s unexpected however, and has caused me both consternation and peace.  This unusual awareness has kept me present, with little or no effort.  Listening. Surprised. Calm. Aware. Interested.

Everywhere I’m greeted warmly ” Sawadeeka Madame”.

In Bangkok the din of traffic is constant.  Scooters, cars, tuk tuk, train. The motor on the long tail boat sounds like a jet engine as it sputters and spurts black smoke on the Chao Praya River.  Hammering and construction noise mixed with the far off call to prayer from the mosques. The broom vendor peddles his bicycle/cart filled with brooms for sale and honks his clown horn as he goes. Awooga! Awooga!  Slurp your noodles.

Sweep. Sweep. Sweep.

In Chiang Mai the street hawkers selling their foods combine with the prayers of the people making offerings at the Wats.  Such a variety of languages spill forth from the lips of hundreds of European expats and thousands of young backpackers from all over the world.  The rooster wakes all of us each morning while the monks chant in unison.  The waterfall thunders and splashes while the tourists laugh and giggle.  Laughter sounds the same in any language.

Sweep. Sweep. Sweep.

Waves crash ashore in Phuket and the thunder rumbles in the distance. Jet skis and motor boats hum on the water while the mynah birds create the most obnoxious racket at dusk each night.  The sound of a golf ball being hit off the tee accompanied by cheers or groans is heard through-out the day.  “White Christmas” plays in the convenience store. The tuk tuk and the taxi toot their horn “taxi madame”? Slap-slap-slap the flip-flops go on my feet and everyone’s feet around me.

Sweep. Sweep. Sweep.

Dogs bark and cats purr in Koh Samui while the fishing boats head out to sea at sunset. Sleepy fisherman talk quietly in the sun at daybreak as they mend their nets and discuss the night’s catch.  The rain pours down like bullets from the heavens. The wind ruffles the palm fronds in the trees high above the hawkers who walk the beach softly calling out to sun worshippers what goods they have for sale.  The incessant sound of motor scooters buzzes in the air while annoyingly loud speakers blare from roving trucks announcing “fight night – BE THERE !” A coconut crashes to the earth with a whack and a thud.

Sweep. Sweep. Sweep.

The whistle of the train echoes in the distance as sleepy Hua Hin wakes up. The gecko chirps, the skink scampers and the mosquito whines while the children splash and shriek with joy in the pool. The Songthaew is packed with people, cackling like chickens in languages numerous beyond recognition.  At the night market live musicians speak to the crowd in Thai and then sing Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison songs in bemused broken English. Infrequent and distant, an occasional monkey grunts and hoots.  Flags flutter madly in the wind high on the mountain above the town.  Whispers at the shrine deep in the cave. A bell gongs in the distance.

Sweep. Sweep. Sweep.

I love the sounds of Thailand.

“Khob kuhn ka Madame”.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Suzanne Suther

    Your art of painting a picture of the sights and sounds of far off lands is a welcome gift! Thanks Lala

    January 24, 2017 at 5:52 pm
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