Travel to Bangkok – 4

Another day at the school, an ensemble was practicing for an upcoming performance. This instrumental group included small xylophones, a string instrument like an erhu, and recorder/flute instruments. The teachers were keeping time with two sticks, and also with finger cymbals. Observation: children tend to rush music all over the world.

The Bangkok soundscape changes a lot depending on the time of day. It is a sprawling, concrete city that is moving constantly, but the vegitation growth in the city is also unstoppable thanks to the climate. This also means there is a high level of small, vocal animal life. Birds dominate the daytime soundscape when they can be heard above the traffic, and they sing in such variety as I have never heard before. Here are some birdcalls as I heard them from my bedroom window.

In the evenings, the insects take over: crickets are the only ones I recognize. Mosquitos are quiet here, and as fast as fish. I would hazard that the cold in Canada makes our mozzies slower and more stupid (hence louder). Below is an evening soundscape.

During the night, frogs and toads join the choir. The toads were my favorite night sound. Below is a closeup of a toad croaking.

We arrived at the Floating Market in the early morning, which is highly recommended. By the time we left at 9am, the place had filled with noisy tourists trucked in on gaudy buses. The first track below is of what we heard when we first started out on our rented canoe, powered by a paddling lady. The second track is when we pulled up to a vendor along the canal and suddenly found ourselves buying several clacketing wooden wind chimes – Thais can be very pursuasive, and we were horrible bargainers. The third track is what the market sounded like when the busloads of tourists filled the canals.

At the Crocodile and Elephant show, we saw animals being kept for entertainment, and in zoo settings. The elephants gave rides to people, and the crocodiles put on a show by being prodded and hauled around by handlers. I saw the crocodile show. The stunts were impressive – handlers putting their heads inside the crocodiles mouths, etc. However, I intensely dislike zoos of any kind, and this was no exception. The sonic experience was, as well, not enjoyable. Hear the clip below where you hear a croc SNAP its mouth shut right at the beginning, then he is being hauled around by the tail and hisses from his nose or mouth several times. The bad, overly-loud music was grating, and I can’t speak for the announcer since he was speaking Thai.

And this clip below was an animal in the zoo. It only called like this a few times while I was there, but it sounded quite haunting. I think it was a monkey.