When I arrived at Wat Arun and spent two hours there, honestly I didn’t find myself in a situation I wanted to be in. Instead of imagining myself in the middle of a historic Budhist temple in Bangkok, I got a lot of tourists noises, especially foreign tourists crowding Wat Arun. I then asked myself, why do do I need to record the noise of tourists? My friend from Yogyakarta, Gata, who at the time help me in my visit to Bangkok, also asked me do I want to record the sound of tourism in this research. I was in a dilemma, but on the other hand in the end I realized that the sound of tourism was an inseperable reality of many places in SouthEast Asia and our world today. Tourism had become part of culture, especially with the mode of transportations between countries that had advanced and achieveable like planes. Now, if seen through the lense of tourism, Bangkos was one of the primary tourist destination in Thailand, furthermore, Wat Arun was one of the place you have to visit if you go on a tour in Bangkok.
What can I do? other than the sound of tourists noise, in the end I decided to record a tourists boat information advertisement which kept repeatedly sound off through the TOA horn speaker located in one of the crowded corners at the complex courtyard of Wat Arun. In actuality, if I listen to this sound, at least to me it sounds very annoying and boring. Because not only was it set on high volume (understandable, advertisements need to be heard by as many people as possible on a given range), the sounds were repeated over and over again without any variations. Maybe, I was being oversensitive. As though it became a patterned line aligned with the sounds of conversations, the cheers of happiness from children traveling along, footsteps, and the sounds of boat engines rumbling from the river (because Wat Arun is located right on the riverbank).
Once again, my mind wandered far to the photograph by Robert Lenz who captured Wat Arun in 1890. Of course at that time there were no boat advertisement through a horn speaker like what I had recorded, because the technology didn’t even exist yet (British engineer, Horace Short patented a design for a loudspeaker driven by compressed air in 1898).
Then the next reflective question would be, should I really compare it? For what purpose do I need to compare it? Am I a nostalgist who wanted to go back to the past? But at least, one definite answer I could give was that my ears were tired listening to the noise of advertisements using horn speaker repeated over and over again. I don’t know If anybody felt the same way or not. But we also had to accept that the condition of soundscape in ‘our world’ kept on changing.