Yangon Noise

Tuesday evening Gav and I heard our gate doorbell ring and Nell started going crazy.  We ventured outside to see what it was, and it was pretty bizarre. It got me thinking about all the different noises in Yangon and how different they are to London noises.

Back in London we could hear the train line, helicopters, our neighbors yelling at each other and, in the middle of the night, foxes. Here we can hear the neighbor across the way yelling into his mobile phone, but the similarities stop there.

If you visit Yangon, the first thing you will notice are the car horns.  There are no stop signs here, so the accepted way to make sure you are safe when approaching an intersection is to honk.  If you approach a long driveway, honk. Passing a cyclist or pedestrian? Honk. Need your house help to open your gate? Honk.  You are a taxi and want to ask if I need a ride? HONK. I like to imagine that Burmese driving test involves something similar to the UK test where you have to watch a video and click the mouse every time you see a hazard developing.  Only here you just honk your horn incessantly. It honestly can get very wearing, especially people honking at their own gates. While they are waiting for someone to open up, invariably another car comes up behind and honks to let them know they are irritated.

I feel sort of guilty saying it, but nuns chanting is also getting on my nerves.  When monks walk along to ask for offerings it is very civilized. A small boy walks ahead and rings a gong that is audible but not unpleasant.  When the nuns come around I think they send only the teenaged ones (remember being monk or nun is a temporary position and everyone will spend some time in their life doing it) who are annoyed at the job or something.  It is the most nasal, demanding chanting and I kind of hate it. They are perfectly capable of chanting pleasantly, we have heard this during religious ceremonies, so I don’t know if the offerings chant is calibrated to make you give them something as quickly as possible or what.

Nothing, nothing is worse than the noise that the man who pushes a cart down the street selling I don’t know what (looks maybe like lottery tickets or something like that) makes.  He has a recording that screams out through a home-made speaker system consisting of a ratty old megaphone. Every time he pushes a button on his cart this recording blares out in a sing-songy way and it is horrible.  Like the ice cream van music level of horrible.

Which brings me to our strange noise of Tuesday night.  We realized as we got outside that it was a group of people singing.  It was hard to tell what as Nell was going bananas as they were right outside the gate.  As we got closer and shushed the dog we realized that they were singing…Jingle Bells? In Burmese?  We were kind of like “what do we do now?” So we opened the gate, said thanks, they launched into another song and I finally said to Gav “Just pay them something so they will leave!”  We panic gave them the equivalent of 5 GBP. They moved on and I sent a text to our colleagues up the street to let them know what to expect. It was festive but weird.

And now for the obligatory Ei Mou Mou update.  We told school what was going on and they said they would send a pest control company out to deal with it.  I started getting worried that they would put poison down, because Nell eats everything and anything. I made Gav go request no poison and we are now a proud owner of a live trap.  Last night we set it in the kitchen and baited it with some Velveeta that has been in our fridge since we arrived. This morning I was very excited to check the trap and get a few good pictures but…..it was empty.  I guess even mice don’t want to eat Velveeta. He is obviously holding out for the good stuff.


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