Thailand for farang

Why does everything have to be so loud in Thailand?

Whenever I see poles with tube fluorescent light bulbs, I start to fear for my night’s sleep. The fluorescent light bulbs can indicate many things in Thailand. It can be a festival, a party, a wedding, a funeral or anything else. But the one thing you can be sure of is that it is going to be loud!

I have tinnitus (ringing in the ears). I’ve always wondered what the cause of it was, but it makes perfect sense to me now. Thailand is just way too loud on many occasions. Carnivals for example are always loud and you rarely see ear protection on kids.

I actually live in a very quiet neighborhood. But wherever you live, there is no hiding from deafening noise now and then.

Wan Phra

On Wan Phra (day of the monk) which is about once a week, the loud music of the temples starts at about 5 am. I have respect for every religion, but does it really have to be that loud it wakes everybody up?

Thai Weddings

Thai weddings are much different from the kind of weddings we know. They are more active, colorful, the atmosphere is more exciting, they are more fun, but they are so loud! The last wedding I attended the music was set at 119 dB. It was still early so it hurt extra bad.

Thai Buddhist funerals

One think I can’t get used to is how different funerals are from the ones we know. As Buddhists believe in reincarnation the atmosphere is very different from our western funerals. There are monks chanting, people visit the families house for prayers, people will receive a ‘gift’ in memory of the deceased, there will be music, food will be served for everybody and this can last up to 10 days. The music starts early in the morning. The first time I heard it I didn’t know what was happening. It was about 5 am and lasted till 9am. At 9am the music stopped and monks started chanting. If that is finished the music starts again. After a while it stopped but it started again after a few hours. That was the routine untill about 11pm for 10 days. I’ve heard that the music is to scare evil spirits away. I must say I think it is every effective. IF that doesn’t scare them away I don’t know what will. Our house was about 500 m from the funeral. We measured the music inside our bedroom, with the windows and door closed. It was 98 dB.

Life bands in bars

There is a popular bar a bit outside of the city center with live bands performing. The bands are very good and I like the place, but it’s a pitty you can’t communicate with anybody. It’s that loud you can’t hear the person sitting next to you yelling in your ear. I live about 3 km from that bar. Depending on the wind some days the sound of the live bands keeps me up at night.

Shopping malls

People living in Thailand have probably been through this shopping center experience. You’re walking around and see this skinny, very white cute Thai girls, dressed in sexy or cute costumes. They smile at you and you automaticly smile back untill you see she has a microphone in her hand. The only thing you want to do is get out of there fast before she starts speaking and your eardrums explode. You start walking faster and feel relieved when you arrive in the grocery section. You’re heartbeat returns to normal until you find yourself face to face to a guy in an apron holding a microphone. They are the worst! It seems like they don’t even breathe, they just keep jabbering at a very ear damaging high volume. I measured it, it was 98 dB.

How to avoid ear damage

There is no way to avoid all encounters with loud noise, but there are some things you can do.

  1. Always have ear plugs on your bedside
  2. Carry earplugs with you if you go to a carnival, wedding, funeral, …
  3. Before sitting down on one of these events check the locations, don’t sit near one of the speakers
  4. In shopping malls stay on the look out for people holding microphones and stay away from them
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