While I was in Ha Giang Loop, a mountainous area in North Vietnam, I stumbled upon a herd of ox and cows. There were more than twenty of them. Four teenagers were herding these cows and oxen through the streets. the same street that is being used for vehicles. It was in the late afternoon, and the temperature started to drop. The teenagers were herding the cows and oxen back home after eating in the mountainous area that still have a lot of vegetation. Due to the large number, the cows and oxen sometimes block the road causing the drivers to honk their horns to scare them to the side, or to remind the teenagers to control their herd. The teenagers do not look fazed by the protest from the drivers. They were able to control the herd calmly.
The bells on the neck of the cows and oxen rang shrilly. I remembered the time when I was still in my hometown Sragen, Central Java. It was in the mid 90’s, the sound of cow bells from a herd or the cows that pulled “bajingan”, a colourful cart, was still easy to find. These bells are called klontong in Java. Although the cows do not pass our village often, the presences of cows were still noticeable. Now, cows are locked in cages, and the sound of cow bells no longer fill the streets of our village, which is now filled by the sound of motorcycles.
I was happy to be able to encounter these sounds again in northern Vietnam. It is very interesting to research various soundscapes in Southeast Asia and Japan in this modern time. There are still sounds like this in the untouched region of Central Java.