It won’t surprise anyone to hear that Hong Kong doesn’t top the list of the world’s quietest places, coming 34th out of 50 cities included in a 2017 survey. Zurich, in Switzerland, quietly took the top honour, with Vienna, in Austria, gently padding into the second spot, while Guangzhou crashed home in last place. The study’s authors noted that the eardrums of people living in the noisiest locales can be the equivalent of 10 years older than those in quieter spots.
Can you even remember the last time you experienced silence? I’ll bet it wasn’t in Hong Kong. Even in the middle of the night, your dreams will be soundtracked by the dull hum of a ventilation unit, a rogue jackhammer or perhaps the rattle of a struggling minibus engine. Many of us choose to escape the cacophony by spending weekends out on the hiking trails.
Some people, however, appear terrified of being stuck in the middle of nowhere with only their thoughts for company, carrying portable speakers and violating nature with their hateful playlists of nauseating pop songs. Only in Hong Kong would anyone think it acceptable to meander through a peaceful country park carrying a boom box.
The occasional hiker playing flute songs from a pocket player wouldn’t be so bad, but when everyone brings along their own stereo, a hike in the hills can quickly turn into a headache-inducing nightmare. It’s almost impossible to escape the smartphone DJs: at weekends, even the most obscure trails are full of hikers with backpack radios blaring music at ear-splitting volume.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s corny Canto-pop, shrill opera, cheesy 1980s motivational rock, obnoxious dance music or, worst of all, Katy Perry’s Firework – it does not belong in the countryside! The stressful racket can drive wild animals them from their habitat, while other hikers are unhappily caught in the crossfire between Calvin Harris, Eason Chan and Bon Jovi.
Turning a corner to be faced with a crowd of ramblers playing different beats, it takes every ounce of self-restraint not to grab a device, stamp on it, and hurl it from the nearest cliff edge. What’s the point in taking the MTR, a minibus, a cab and a sampan to reach a remote trailhead if, when you get there, you’re going to conjure up the same mayhem as Mong Kok’s ladies market?
Playing music on a hike shows an infuriating lack of respect for others. Please, for the love of silence, turn off Taylor Swift and enjoy the outdoors as Mother Nature intended.