Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Sounds of Ha Nam

(PICTURE: A loudspeaker that starts at 5AM.)

Vietnam is a place that touches all of your senses. There are beautiful sites, intoxicating smells, wonderful tastes and even new things to touch and feel. However, when you go to the countryside, you realize this is a country of sounds.

I’m an early riser to begin with but when I go to Huyen’s parent’s house in Ha Nam, I take early rising to a new level due to the sounds of the countryside. Last night these are the things are heard:

Midnight: By midnight I’d been asleep for a couple of hours since there isn’t much to do at night in the countryside. However, that doesn’t stop people from riding their motorbikes outside and occasional honking; at who I have no idea.

1:40 AM: The roosters begin crowing. Don’t believe the myth that roosters crow at sunrise. Roosters crow all night long. Sure they crow at sunrise but only because they’ve been at it for five hours.

3:20 AM: A pig starts squealing, its life about to end. If you have never heard this sound you’re lucky. I wrote a blog on this over a year ago. Frankly, there is nothing more horrible than a squealing pig being butchered. Every time I hear it, I wince and promise myself that one day I’ll be a vegetarian. Despite the grotesque sound, I fell back asleep until…

5:00 AM: Vietnam radio begins to blast from the telephone poles. In all the small towns around the country, a radio station begins to play announcements.

5:15 AM: Women do exercise outside. I hear them chanting: “Mot. Hai. Ba. Mot. Hai. Ba” over and over again.

Besides all of this, there is the occasional chatter coming from the streets. People walk by Huyen’s house, talking to one another. All of these sounds, except for the radio station, exist in Hanoi. The difference is that the countryside is nearly empty so all of the sounds are magnified. As you can imagine, I don’t sleep very well when I go to Huyen’s house.

As I’m finishing this blog there is another pig being killed in the distance. Uh.