The SOUNDS of Thailand

Listen for the sounds of Thailand when you visit or of you are a resident here. Particularly in rural Thailand.

The birds singing during the dawn chorus, the insects and frogs with their mating calls in the early evening. After a while you’ll come to expect the loudspeaker announcements from the local pooyaibaan, the elected village council leader.

Your neighbours will be eagerly awaiting his regular updates on what’s happening in the community — a charity event to raise funds for the local school, a blessing at the wat when it opens a new meeting hall, or informing of a neighbour’s recent death.

Evenings will bring the happy laughter, though not always melodious singing, from your neighbours’ homes. You will hear the distant chanting of the monks from a nearby wat or the shouting of instructions to an outside fitness class or aerobics session.

During election time local politicians and their teams, canvassing in their slow-moving pick-up trucks, will be extolling their virtues and asking voters for their support in the upcoming elections. You’ll see that quite regularly.

Driving around yourself, one minute you’ll see a singing and dancing crowd escorting a novice monk to his initiation, the next moment and further down the road you may hear the sad laments coming from the home of someone who has recently died, the garlanded coffin on full view outside the house.

Drive into a restaurant or shopping mall car park, and you will hear the attendants blowing whistles for all they’re worth to help you park. Police use them a lot to draw attention to other cars and pedestrians and to beckon you forward.

Teachers on duty outside a school entrance do the same. You are obliged to follow their directions even though they have no legal right to direct traffic.

Especially around wats you will hear dogs barking. Relatives will let off loud fireworks to announce a death and also at the moment of burn at the crematorium (though never at the temple itself).

You’ll hear the sound of fireworks when the Thais celebrate some event or party.

Guidebooks will tell you there is much to see in Thailand. There is much to listen for too.


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I am a published author on Thai events and how Thais actually live under feudalism. My books are available in eBook and print format. I also publish on Substack