It was not my plan to visit Bang Kachao. On January 14, Gata, my friend who helped me in my research in Bangkok, and I arrived in Bangkok Port around 4 in the afternoon. I wanted to record some of the unloading activities from the boat, but I was not given permission by the guard. I was informed that the boats are off-limit for people who are not a porter. What can we do? We spent the rest of the day like people with no purpose.
Outside of the port, only the roars of machines from trucks are heard. I tried to record since we were already there, but what is interesting about these sounds? In addition, a guard dog seemed to be suspicious of me recording the activity of the port. I felt awkward towards the guards, feeling like a weird person.
I finally decided to stroll along the edge of the Chao Praya River, outside of the port area. It was around five o’clock. There were a few teenagers playing at the harbour. They jumped off of the harbour to the river continuously. Their activity entertained us, people who does not have anything else to do, quite a bit. In the distance, skyscrapers seemed as though they are merging with the sky of Bangkok. Night was already upon us, and today felt like a failure.
After discussing, and looking up google maps, Gata suggested we go to Bang Kachao, which is right across of us. We needed to use a boat to get across the river to get there. What is Bang Kachao? We both have not been there, but the internet said that Bang Kachao is a green part of Bangkok. We both thought it was interesting, and we decided to go there.
We arrived on a small harbour in Bang Kachao. It turns out that it is a small island created by the curvature of Chao Praya River. A map would help you understand the location of Bang Kachao even more. Chao Praya makes Bang Kachao seem like a separate island away from all the bustling of Bangkok, and make it seem like a natural oasis. If Bangkok is like a forest of building, then Bang Kachao is a real mini forest. It still has a lot of trees, birds, and bugs.
I was quite happy that the failure in recording Bangkok Port has led us here. I took out my recording set and recorded our stroll along the Bang Kachao. The problem is, we arrived here when the sun had set, which is not an ideal time to be here. Lighting in a natural area like this is not very great. The only lighting there is the small light coming from the side of the small road. One or two motorcycle passes-by sometimes, and the rest is darkness. Our walk was accompanied by the shadows of trees, and the sounds of insects.
After walking a few hundred metres, we arrived at a rural area. The rural area is not as crowded as the areas in Bangkok. As I was recording, I was startled by a loud bark of a dog from a very big house. Their barks were very loud, as I was wearing headphones to control the recording. The dogs were running towards us. Thankfully, the house was surrounded by fences, so I just focused on recording the barks of the dog. What was interesting was there was some ducks in the corner of the house quaking along with the dogs. The difference is the bark of the dogs sounded aggressive, while the ducks sounded distressed. There were also some chickens clucking as though they were confused of the situation. The symphony of animal sounds sounded very funny.
We then continued our walk before noticing that the bridge on the west side of Bang Kachao canal was still far away, probably around two kilometres from where we were. If the day was still young, we would probably continue our journey, but it was not a good decision as it was already dark. We then went to a small harbour not far from the one we arrived at. It was around eight o’clock at night. We waited anxiously whether there were still some passenger boats available. Finally, a small boat came along. We waved towards the old man who was driving it. We were then able to go back to the “City”.
When we managed to get back, we were very pleased to be able to record the soundscape of Bang Kachao at night. Among them are the sound of insects, dogs, ducks, chickens, and the sound of radio from one of the post, which sounded very clear in the calm surrounding.
I felt blessed, not far from the bustling life of Bangkok, there is still a natural area. There is Bang Kachao in Bangkok, Ueno Park in Tokyo which is filled by the sound of ravens in the evening. Hopefully these kinds of area will not be demolished for greedy purposes of human. We really need areas like this. I hope that the recording of Bang Kachao we hear today can still be heard in the future. I hope that news of forest fires, and deforestations will be no more. Our home is not only the building we have, but also the natural lands of earth.