Peter Smith

Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff

Telling the Time in Thailand

In Thailand (as in Cambodia and Laos), the day is traditionally divided into 4 periods, each of 6 hours: morning, afternoon, evening, and after midnight. The terms for these periods are partly onomatopoeic — one gong, two gongs [mong], etc during the daytime; one drum [thoom/ pron ‘toom’], etc for the evening; and one strike [tee/ pron ‘tdee’] for after midnight.

When we first arrived here and for many years afterwards, the local nightwatchmen would ring the hours of the night by striking a metal bar. It was rather quaint. At one time there were 2 nightwatchmen in the lane, and their watches were apparently a few minutes different because we would hear the 2nd guy a few minutes after the first.

This has all gone now, and the main nighttime noise is the incessant din of the neighbouring construction project.

BTW, one of my Bangkok friends was kept awake at night by the sound of 3 or 4 nightwatchmen who would perform loud karaoke on their walkie-talkies in the wee hours.

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This entry was posted on January 18, 2013 by in Peter Smith and tagged .
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