Noises in Serenity

However, the serenity of Peng Chau should not be mistaken as soundlessness. Precisely because of its blank base, any noise becomes more pronounced than if it was heard in other places in Hong Kong.

An evening gathering of the neighbourhood is held every couple of weeks in the open space outside Lung Mo (Dragon Mother) Temple in Tung Wan. According to Charles, the outdoor singing that occurs there for a few hours straight immerses everyone, whether you want to be involved or not, in an exhilarating spirit.

Here human noises that are perhaps not meant to be heard are not confined to the insides of buildings. Sze and musician Nelson Hiu (who both live on Wai Tsai Street) often hear a man’s screams. This screaming can go on for hours. What at first sounds like kung-fu fighting, turns into apparent shrieks of torture, always involving cursing, and sometimes swearing. Their echoes sound even more disturbing in the sparsely inhabited Wai Tsai area. While such disturbing noises may drive some to call the police, Nelson manages to draw inspiration from this man, and complements his screams with piano music to ease the tension.

Windows and doors can be powerless against noises that refuse to stay on the streets. Most buildings in Peng Chau are village houses with thin ceilings and walls. You can—whether you want to or not—hear your neighbours’ every movement from above and below, to the left and right. I previously lived in the rather quiet area of Wai Tsai Tsuen. The televisions at midnight, music, dog barks, the opening and closing of doors, running pipes … these were all chattering in my ears, leaving me sleepless for the first few nights I stayed there. Since then, I cannot help but listen to every single word my neighbours say while they relax in the evening, and this was nowhere near quietness one would expect from Peng Chau.

The serenity of Peng Chau also highlights the sounds of machines that can easily go unnoticed in everyday life. Charles first attributed the weird “wee-wee” noise, often heard at his place in the evenings, to tinnitus. Then—to no avail—he went downstairs to look for the source of the sound. I now live in a flat in a village house in the centre of the island. One hears this low but loud humming noise around midnight every night. It resembles something coming from a machine, but I have no clue as to what kind of machine it is, or where it is. Georgia considers these mysterious machine sounds, coming and going as if from nowhere, as one of the distinctive sounds of Peng Chau. “Maybe Peng Chau is too quiet, so that the ventilators and air-conditioners become audible all-day long. Sounds of these everyday machines can write an aural story of their owner’s life.”





噪音不只限於街上,關緊門窗也未必躲得過。坪洲大多數房屋為村屋,天花地板牆身較薄,上下左右的一舉一動,要聽一定聽到,不想聽的也可能會聽到。我之前住在較為僻靜的圍仔村,初住頭數日,聽到鄰居深夜的電視、音樂、狗吠、開關門、水喉…… 清楚得像耳語,弄得幾夜無眠。之後,每逢鄰居晚上聚會,注意力也會無法自拔地集中隔離屋的一字一句。這和想像中住在坪洲的「靜」,實在差天共地。

除此之外,坪洲的安靜,也突顯平日較少留意的機器聲。Charles說他住的地方,晚上便常有個奇怪的「wee wee聲」,初時還以為是耳鳴,後來特意落樓找尋聲音,卻遍尋不獲。我現居位於島中心的村屋單位,每逢凌晨約莫十二時,總有一個來自機器低沈但大聲的「唔」聲,不知是甚麼機器,也尚未找到源頭。這些來無蹤,去無影,神秘的機器聲音,卻是Georgia心目中的「坪洲之聲」之一:「或者係坪洲靜卦,所以成日聽到抽氣扇、冷氣機等。實用機器嘅聲,令人聯想嗰啲人嘅生活。」

:: Recording 錄音 ::

Love Trap Peng Chau Remix/ 愛情陷阱坪洲remix
Charles Kwong/ 鄺展維
Evening/ 傍晚, 01/10/2017
Wing Tung Street/ 永東街
Phone/ Handheld/ 手持錄影
singing, noise/ 唱歌、噪音

Scream/ 慘叫
Sze Ka-yan/ 史嘉茵
Date unknown/ 日期未知
Wai Tsai Tsuen/ 圍仔村
Recorder unknown/ Handheld/ 手持錄音
yelling, noise/ 大叫、噪音

Midnight party nextdoor/ 隔壁深夜派對
Yip Kai-chun/ 葉啟俊
Midnight/ 午夜, 05/11/2017
Home at Wai Tsai Tsuen/ 圍仔村家中
Zoom H6 Handy Recorder/ Recorder in stationary position/ 錄音機靜置
neighbour, midnight, chitchat, noise/ 鄰居、深夜、閒談、噪音

Machine/ 機器聲
Yip Kai-chun/ 葉啟俊
Evening/ 傍晚, 19/01/2018
Home on Wing Hing Street/ 永興街家中
Zoom H6 Handy Recorder/ Recorder in stationary position/ 錄音機靜置
machine/ 機器

Pipe on the roof/ 天台排氣喉
Yip Kai-chun/ 葉啟俊
Morning/ 上午, 20/01/2018
Roof of Wing Hing Street/ 永興街天台
Zoom H6 Handy Recorder/ Recorder in stationary position/ 錄音機靜置
machine/ 機器

:: Tuning Silences — Listening to Peng Chau 怎個靜字了得 — 耳聽坪洲 ::
> Prologue 引言
1. Low Volume Ear Cleansing 清耳仔的底聲
2. Noises in Serenity 靜中帶嘈
3. The Songs of Birds and Bamboo 鳥風竹浪
4. Festivals and Ritual Ceremonies 慶典祭祀
5. Ferries Coming & Going 船來船往
< Conclusion 結語

Love Trap Peng Chau Remix/
愛情陷阱坪洲 remix


Scream/ 慘叫


Midnight party nextdoor/ 隔壁深夜派對


Machine/ 機器聲


Pipe on the roof/ 天台排氣喉