If Bangkok has the Chao Praya River, then Chiang Mai has the Ping River. These two great rivers are actually one, and divide the land of Thailand from the north to the centre ending in the gulf of Thailand. While doing this research, I have visited some parts of Ping River, Chao Praya, and even parts of the downstream that face the Thailand Bay. One of the reasons I recorded near the river is because the river has been a crucial part of Thailand history and even in today’s modern Thailand.
On January 29th, I spent the whole afternoon and evening recording the sounds around Ping River. In the afternoon, I recorded right at the edge of the river, a few hundred metres from the Nawarat Chiang Mai Bridge. In the distance are some locals fishing. Compared to the Chao Praya, that is always full of boats, the Ping River is much more peaceful. There are only a few boats that pass-by, which makes the sound of splashing water even more dramatic. The atmosphere is very different in Bangkok, because boats are one of the main alternative transportation aside from being a tourist attraction. Chao Praya in Bangkok is like a crowded train station, and Ping River is like a serine temple with faint sounds of vehicles that crosses Nawarat Bridge.
Upon the evening, sounds of crickets around the river can be heard clearly, but this atmosphere will change when the Songkran Festival comes along in mid-April. It will be a time when people would jump in the river to have “water wars”. If we look at the archived photos of past Songkran Festivals, we can imagine the vibrant sounds. It must be very interesting, and different from the peaceful environment I feel today.
Around 8 o’clock, as the sky begins to darken, mosquitos starts to disrupt my serenity. I tried to withstand this attack, but decided to pack up my recording set. I did not want to stop recording, and go back to my lodge. At last, I moved to another spot on a small bridge right across the Muang Mai Market, a few hundred metres from where I was recording earlier. On this bridge, light shines brightly. At least I will not have to deal with mosquitos here. After resting for a few minutes, around ten o’clock, I start to unpack my recording set, and start recording from the bridge. The sounds of crickets can still be heard, and the sounds of toads, which were not very audible in the afternoon, is getting louder. Sounds of cafes and bars can be heard from my left.
There was a funny incident that occurred while I was recording. While I was focused on listening to the sounds from my headphones, two police officers came up to me. It seems that they have been observing my suspiciously from a far. They probably thought my recording set was a small mortar that I was aiming towards the river. The officers then greeted and asked me in Thai, which I do not understand. They then tried to ask me in broken English. I explained to them that I was recording the sounds of crickets and toads from the river with my recording set. They then observed my recording set. After I explained everything, they laughed, and we ended up laughing together. Then they allowed me to continue with my research. I think that Thailand locals are very humorous, those officers probably thought I was weird to be recording the sounds of crickets and toads in the middle of the night.