Louder than Bombs

 |  February 25, 2010

As an addendum to William Parham’s article on noise in Thailand and its constituent annoyances and dangers, we thought we’d go in search of the noisiest places in Chiang Mai. This wasn’t a difficult task as besides receiving sack-fulls of complaints from residents who’ve gone round the bend with local din manufacturers many of the staff at Citylife work and live next to these places.

Think Park’s bright idea of blasting out MCs mangled caterwauls and manic music has kept residents on the edge of their seats for months now. As has Prasertland where fairs cast their jarring discordance over a large radius of the town and where nightclubs, one in particular, keep condo occupants awake ’til the teenagers decide to scoot off from the car parks _ sometimes after a good dust up and the attendant histrionics.

One long term resident of the city has been actively involved in trying to manage noise levels around the modern, exciting, and fast becoming drastically overburdened Nimmanhaemin area. Johnny Ferdinand explained to Citylife how locals are feeling about Prasertland’s ongoing noise levels. “It’s not just me,” he said emphatically, “it’s many residents around here…it’s unbelievable, a cacophony, it’s just terrible.” Ferdinand is sure the clubs need a permit for this level of noise and suggests that the clubs don’t have one.” After recently seeing his doctor and being told he had a hearing problem the doctor went on to explain that if any club has a noise level where you can’t hear others speak then it’s too loud, over 70 decibels (safe level in Thailand) and very much a possible health hazard. “Just imagine the staff that work in these places,” says Ferdinand, “you have to think about the employees; there are labour laws in Thailand to protect these people. The club in question is Chalerm Krung; other clubs in the area, says Ferdinand _ who’s been in and inspected the clubs _ have insulation. Both 103 Condo and Punna condo residents have been vociferous about this club but nothing has been done to insulate the club. “It’s not hard or expensive to put insulation in the roof,” says Ferdinand, “I’ve called the police and the police have been but have said there’s no problem.” A local office worker, Anchana Ontanut, has also been opposed to the noise, writing several letters to the Chiang Mai News newspaper. The newspaper went on to write an article about noise in this area but did not mention the offending club. According to Ferdinand, after the Chiang Mai governor read the piece he issued an investigation of the issue. Residents were asked to fill in official reports stating how they felt about the din. After this, the police were asked to check the noise levels and still said the club wasn’t breaking the law, stating in a report “5 government organisations inspected the club and they measured the noise to be 4.9 decibels, which is not illegal”. At Phu Ping police station we were informed that there have been some complaints about noise though the police can only fine the perpetrators 100 baht if noise levels are breached. The police also stated that they did not have sufficient technology to go around testing noise levels. As for a concert or fair, the organisers must apply for a permit from the municipality before holding any noisy event. The environment office in the municipal buildings is where formal complaints can be made concerning public events.

Ferdinand is not sure what he or other residents can do. He reiterates that all the club would have to do is insulate, just as Taweng Daeng aka the communist club does, just around the corner. As for the noisy fairs and their screaming MCs, he recommends deflecting the sound so it doesn’t bleed over the city.

Ferdinand is not alone. Think Park (which we suggest be rebranded as Can’t Think Park) made the Bangkok Post letters page in January this year when a Chiang Mai resident voiced his opinion: “how anybody could even start to think in there is beyond me. It is already hard to think in my place, which is about 600 metres away,” he also added, most likely referring to Chalerm Krung, “rowdy and noisy club in Soi 6, underage drinking and rowdy scenes and never any respite from the noise and very loud music.” Poignantly he capped his letter with “You can’t escape all of this.” For the residents of Nimmanhaemin ‘flight’ might not be the best solution to the noise problem, though to stand up to noise makers and ‘fight’ might seem a daunting task.

After this article was written we received a letter from a concerned resident who had written to the owners of Think Park and recently received a reply. ‘Dear Resident, I have received your concerns about Think Park and apologise for the problems caused. Since your concerns last time we have refused all upcoming concert sessions and reduce as much events as possible. However, Chang festivals was agreed before your notice. I have spoken to our organiser in Chiang Mai of a possible way to move it to another land . . .”

Phuping Police Station: 053 211 730

Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment main call centre: 1310.

Chiang Mai Regional Environment office 053 112 725.