Traveling to See … and Hear!

So we travel around to see the world, to see people, to see monuments, to see history, to see things outside our environs. But to see, one does not merely use the eyes. One also uses the ears.

“Think about that,” Fristrup said. “In cities, we want to shut out the noise; we turn on our iPods and make our world smaller. In a national park, people do the opposite: They expand their world by listening.” Indeed, several scientists note that this is the very purpose of hearing. “Hearing is designed to get information from much farther away than your eyes can reach,” Arthur Popper, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, said in a telephone interview. “Hearing is not something that evolved so you can talk to me. It evolved so you can learn about your world.” But in a world dominated by the rush and roar of automobiles and airplanes, we close our ears—or stick in our ear buds—and so learn nothing.

There is, truly, very few places where the natural soundscapes are not interrupted by the sound of a spluttering truck or the whirr of a diesel generator running a pump. However, hearing and decoding both human created and natural sounds has its own science. 

In the Si Phon Don area of the Mekong in the Laos – Cambodian border, the puttering of long tail boats mix with the splash of the dolphins. On the Konkan coast, the steady drone of the breaking water mix with the soft chatter of the tourists in the MTDC resort with backing vocals provided by the local village music.

Tarkarli Beach, near Malvan, dawn

Try next time. Keep the noise reduction headphones and iPod buds for the noisome stuff they play in planes and buses.

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