Noise here is not noise to the locals, it seems. Each shop has to have their music blaring, to compete with other shops’ blaring music. Sometimes you have to shout to be heard. Often I can’t hear the podcast I am listening to through my earphones.
But in a coffee shop or even restaurants, the noise appears no problem to patrons as they are all playing with their phones or tablets. A family of four – mother, father and two kids, each staring at and playing with their own phones. You may not be able to hear to talk – but they don’t talk.
Today in Starbucks, an old Chinese man decided to play something out loud on his mobile phone, annoying me and other non-Malaysians in the vicinity. Other people used earphones.
As noise is not noise, it doesn’t occur to anyone who wants to rearrange chairs that they can be picked up and moved – they just drag them, with the accompanying dragging / scraping sound that can really grate on one’s nerves.
If you hear a huge window rattling explosion in the middle of the night (2AM?) – this is just someone who has decided to let off a firework. Sometimes just the one, or sometimes a few more will follow. Of course, dogs may not be impressed, and start barking too. These random explosions are mostly around festival time. And there are a great many festivals in Malaysia, as all the religions here have festivals that are celebrated.
Then, the Muslim call to prayer – five times a day. The times vary according to the time of year. At present the first is a little before 6AM, The last around 8PM. We have a mosque to our northeast, and another to our southwest – they start their call to prayer within a few seconds of each other, but the sound is different. During Ramadan the call to prayer seems to be much longer. Sometimes the early morning one wakes me, but usually not. There are plenty of churches around, but none close enough to be able to hear church bells on a Sunday morning, as I used to in England. I don’t even know if Hindu temples have anything similar.
As for traffic, it’s not noisy like Italy or some Asian cities, as not so many drivers honk their horns.
Anyway, you more or less get used to it all. Except for the scraping chairs.