June 12, 2011

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Taiwan's electronic megaphone noise pollution

Megaphone noise pollution
Read the same post in Chinese here>>

One thing that really surprised me in Taiwan (especially in and around Taipei) is how Taiwanese accept noise pollution without ever complaining. Garbage trucks, cars, scooters, fire crackers, religious parades, shouting vendors, all of these noisemakers are seen as normal here, nobody (except me) seems to be bothered by them. But the worst of them all must be the electronic megaphones, which are usually put next to tea shops, sometimes on night markets. If I stand next to one for half a minute, I'm almost going nuts. But you Taiwanese just accept that. How come? In my country, if someone would use these megaphones for "advertising", people would call the police on them.

See the video below of one of these annoying megaphones I took in Xinzhuang:

I wonder how can the tea shop owner listen to this every day over and over again?

This is where Taiwan (the big cities) and I are worlds apart. I grew up in a house surrounded by a forest, where chirping birds woke me up every morning. I think, if I return home one day, my ears will need some time to adapt to the noiselessness and tranquility. I wonder, if they can.

[My UNIQUELY TAIWAN post][Photo and video by MKL, 2011]


  1. hi i have followed your blog and i hope you can follow me back :)

  2. Your reply to Andrik is straightforward, and I like it. The same thing, I agree with you on the noises. Japan is the same situation. I don't know how many times I wanted to go up and complain to those people using electronic megaphone, especially during political campaign. A Japanese friend of mine was nervous wreck because she and her family used to live next to Kamakura station, so, to save their sanity, they ended up moving. On this kind of problems, we welcome foreigners' straightforward criticism because our protest is often regard as a petty complaint.
    Taiwanese must be in a similar situation. What do you think? Please ask your wife.

  3. I would say there's a slight similarity here in Malaysia too but not too bad. Lucky for me, I can't stand noisiness too except if I'm clubbing or listening to my favorite chart-toppers. I guess it is something like habits ... you get used to it.

  4. I am so glad you wrote this blog post. The megaphones on the garbage trucks are unbelievable.

    And I recall the last local elections: we had multiple cars blaring all day long. The firecrackers at 3 am don't bother me as much... in the West, the police would give you free board and lodging.

    I wonder what it would take to end this type of barbaric pollution?

    Ps. Thought about writing a blog on Taiwanese drivers?

  5. Hahaha! I hate the "followed you, follow me back" trick!

    Anyway, noise pollution, I think is very common here too. I mean, in some parts. The place I live in is very quiet. I'm kinda lucky (ish).

  6. @Keiko: I think the megaphone culture in Taiwan was imported from Japan, which is clear before elections in both countries. Yes, my wife agrees. But I'm not complaining about it here, as I know I can't change anything, but I'm just curious, how Taiwanese feel about it. How can they accept it? My wife said she simply doesn't hear it anymore... -_-

    @Wenny: Malaysia wasn't as bad as here :(

    @Ian: I'm still waiting for the pre-election time, I wonder how noisy it will be. As for the drivers, that would be a post full of crazy stuff :P

  7. @Gnetch: Good for you! Wanna follow me back? :P

  8. This is Asian mentality they used megaphones in some supermarket in KL. The last time I was in Taiwan many many years the drivers used to horn very often and thought it was bad until I went to Madras where the horns was sounded every few minutes and guess the local Indians get so used to it already.

  9. Is it an Asian culture to shout to attract customers? Hopefully it hasn't happened here. I tend to go to shops where there is less noise because my ears won't support the decibels overload.

  10. I listened to a show on CBC radio last week where they were talking about noise pollution in cities. Scientific studies have shown it is bad for humans. It puts us into a "fright or flight" response when we are exposed to it. I hope you are able to adjust. I don't think I ever could.

  11. Import from Japan? Ouch.

    A while ago, I heard that young Japanese children complained of insomnia during camping because of flogs and birds making noises. The sounds of nature are music to my ear, but if we get used to electronic sounds, some of our senses probably will be damaged. Come to think of it, mine is perhaps already damaged by the years of turning on television, using cell phone and so on.

  12. The noise would drive me nuts!


  13. I lived in Taibei for a year, and those loudspeakers drove me the better part of the way to madness. My nerves remained frayed for the better part of the two years after I returned to the US.

  14. @Bananazஇ: I always hear India is worse. Is that a good point?

    @clive: It is a bit Asian, if you ask me, as I have seen it everywhere in Asia I went... sigh.

    @kristie: It's tough.

    @Keiko Amano: I think you are right :)

    @Dana Yoshimizu: Haha..

    @Marting Wandering: Hope you're fine by now :)

  15. I live in Taiwan and between my screaming neighbors and their screaming 3 year-old and teething baby, fighting cats, barking dogs(3 on my block) screeching exotic bird, other neighbor shares a wall with my building and runs band saws, electric drills and such all night in his workshop,have 7 nearby daoist temples constantly blowing of fireworks (not the little bottlerockets but 1/2 stick TNT) last month 3 out of 4 Sundays were shot by a puppet show at 300 decibles, and 2 weddings on my street with blasting karaoke..I have been to 16 countries and even with earplugs a wave machine and noise dampening foam on my windows I still can't get more than 4 hours of sleep at a time... moving soon

  16. @Anonymous: You're moving? I don't blame you.

  17. I can't stand it, my wife (who is Taiwanese) also can't stand it.

    WHY do Taiwanese put up with it?

    I just don't get it. It feels quite primitive really, reminds me of chimpanzees making attention-getting noises.

  18. the noise drives me nuts...i agree...

  19. @Charismatic: Hang in there.

  20. NOISE NOISE NOISE! Cops won't do anything..epa useless
    Chiayi is the noisiest most polluted (smog) ridden place I
    have lived in Taiwan. The Taoist temples have NO consideration of others..even on Easter Sunday it was "the 4th of July"
    I am the one who posted above over a year ago on March 25th..no my lease is up and I am finally "moving asap" as stated above
    Today awoken again by fireworks..sounded like Syria outside..laid down to get a nap at 2:30pm awoken 30 mins later by continuation of the loudest fireworks I have ever heard..if the whole bunch went of at once it would flatten the whole "hood". this continued for over 90 mins..dog terrified..called cops...have had fireworks 17 out of last 21 days..my Taiwanese wife can't stand it..finally HAVE TO MOVE

  21. Megaphones? how about the Megamouths! Taiwanese are so loud they don't need a megaphone. They talk so loud you can hear them a block away. What's up with that? Your in a starbucks and a table of four are across the room, you can hear all the conversation. Loud mouths small people with the biggest and loudest mouths I have ever experienced and I have traveled.


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