Karaoke sessions crank up the volume and tensions in Saigon's neighborhoods

By Minh Nga   December 12, 2017 | 01:13 am PT
Karaoke sessions crank up the volume and tensions in Saigon's neighborhoods
When the love and passion for music goes wrong, karaoke at max volume can become an instrument of torture.

VnExpress received a letter on Tuesday from a man at his wit's end over a karaoke dispute with his neighbor that has led to his wife being threatened for asking for the volume to be turned down a notch or two.

“My child has to study while my wife and I need to rest after we finish work," Le Thanh Tung wrote in his letter, "but our neighbors have been singing on the microphone from 6 to 10 every night for more than a year now.”

“We just can’t stand the noise any longer.” 

His wife asked the neighbors to turn the volume down, but that led to threats of violence, with the neighbors arguing that they can sing however they want before 10 p.m.

On Monday, Son Huynh, another reader, related to a similar story of how his neighbors' karaoke sessions are “torturing” his family.

It turns out that the two men are not the only ones suffering from the problem in Saigon, Vietnam's biggest city now packed with 6,200 people per square kilometer.

Fair enough, many people love music and singing their favorite songs, and it's true that listening to a good voice at a reasonable level can be a treat. But when the love and passion for music goes wrong, karaoke at max volume can become an instrument of torture.

Commenting on these stories, many VnExpress readers said they have experienced the same kind of “noise pollution” created by karaoke sessions around their apartments for years, but still have no solutions to the situation because the law says only those making noise in residential areas after 10 p.m. are considered to be violating regulations.

Lots of readers said there is no way the miserable listeners will be able to convince their neighbors to stop the show or turn down the volume, so they suggested the two authors fight back with louder speakers. Some said the method has already worked for them, and their neighbors had given up when the decibels were ramped up.

This solution received applause from many readers, who said it might be the best choice because it's difficult to get the authorities involved.

Thanh Hung said he realized the local authorities would not help him when they told him to either move or try to endure the noise. Hung said when he tried to report the matter to higher authorities, officials in his commune even disciplined him for damaging their reputation.

They did ask his neighbors to turn the music down, but the peace was short-lived and life returned to normal in the neighborhood after just three weeks, according to Hung.

Just last weekend, a big fight broke out after a man asked a group of workers near his home in the city’s Binh Tan District to turn down their karaoke speakers.

The argument quickly escalated and both men and women attacked one another with weapons, causing serious injuries on both sides.

The bloody aftermath of the fight has set alarm bells ringing among people who love to entertain themselves at the expense of their neighbors.

In Vietnam, noise pollution has become a serious threat.

A study conducted by the Institute of Occupational Health and the Environment in July found that out of the 52 million people working in Vietnam, between 10 million to 15 million have to deal with excessive noise.

Noise levels on 12 major streets and junctions in Hanoi were measured at between 77.8 and 78.1 decibels during the day, way beyond the safe level of 70, according to the study. The average noise level at night also exceeded limits by 20-40 percent, it said.

In HCMC, eight out of 14 spots also violated acceptable levels, according to measurements recorded in June.

The problem is even worse in industrial zones, officials said.

Doan Ngoc Hai, the director of the institute, said that noise pollution can have long-term impacts, such as loss of hearing. It can also lead to sleeping disorders and high blood pressure, while children can suffer cognitive impairment, he said.

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