Old Quarter Hanoi Traffic

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  • Old Quarter Hanoi Traffic 00:00
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This recording is the recording of street sounds around the Old Quarter, near the Hoan Kiem lake. I recorded it on 4th February 2019, one day before the Tet Celebration, the Chinese New Year. Bagas, my friend who had been living in Hanoi for three years said that the Old Quarter is the heart of the hustle in the city. The local people usually call it Old Kwangce, with their specific accent. There are a lot of shops in the area, from clothes, electronics, souvenirs, travel agents, and many more.

The most interesting finding while I was recording, was the street sounds around Old Quarter which was filled the sound of vehicle horns especially motorcycles that came from every directions. This was my first visit to Hanoi and this country. I was really taken aback by the Vietnamese people’s habit who like to sound their horn. In this recording, which is less than 90 seconds long, you could count: how many horn sounds can you hear? Hahaha, even though this sound is quite deafening, especially if you hear it upclose. Questions were floating in my mind. Are the people in Vietnam so used to the sound of these loud horns? Why must they sound their horns so often? Don’t they feel annoyed and disturbed by it? In addition, motorcyclists in Vietnam wear open helmet, like hat without any cover around the ears.  It must be painful sounds, I think.

I also found a number of drivers that seemed to sound their horns automatically every time they came across an intersection or junction without any clear reason. Sometimes it even seemed they were playing around with the horns. Just listen to this 10 seconds recording. I don’t know. If you visit Hanoi, you will encounter this behavior. A symphony of horns that was born from an orchestra of motor vehicles! It took me a week before I could kind of adjust and not complain with the loud horns on the street of Vietnam.

To close this segment I would like to tell you of the peculiar scenery when I was recording this sound. Visual scenery of course, other than auditory recordings. It was the gas balloon seller on the side of the street. With the Tet Celebration approaching, usually families would buy gas balloons for their children. There were some shaped as hello kitty, minions, doraemon, and the most common was pink colored pig because according to the Chinese calendar it was the year of the pig. Now, what surprised me the most was that these transactions were done in the middle of the road! The sellers would bring the balloons here and there approaching potential customers who most were motorcyclist. When there was someone who wanted to buy a balloon, the motorcyclist would just stop there on the middle of the road and do a transaction with the balloon seller. Amazing! What’s even more amazing, more often than not these transactions would block the traffic (obviously!) and cause more horns to be honked by other drivers.

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