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We’ve already looked at cicadas in France, Nepal and the very different sounds made by their Thai cousins. Last up in this small mini-series comparing cicada song in different geographical locations is a recording I made whilst on the island of Perhentian Besar, off the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia. At the end of our six month journey around South-East Asia, my girlfriend and I decided we’d like to spend our last two weeks in Malaysia as it was one of our favourite destinations. During the month we’d spent there in December 2010 / January 2011, we had only visited inland and the West coast as it was the rainy season on the East coast at that time. So when we took the decision to head back to Malaysia, we decided to check out the East coast.

The Perhentian Islands are two small tropical islands that lie approximately 19 km off the coast of northeastern West Malaysia in the state of Terengganu, about 64 km south of the Thai border. Perhentian Besar, the bigger of the two islands, was our home for the two weeks which we principally spent scuba diving. The island is pretty small with no road vehicles whatsoever. To get from one side of the island to the other, you can either take a boat or make the short hike through the interior jungle.

There was a pretty nice beach on the other side of the island to where we were staying so we would often walk through the jungle to spend an afternoon over there. Once we’d passed the small inlet of seawater, home to the ginormous lizards (some were over 2 metres in length), we would quickly hit the edge of the jungle and immediately be welcomed by an intense cicada chorus.

We’ve already heard similar cicada song in one of the recordings I made at Khao Sok National Park in Thailand, but this recording really demonstrates the intense amplitude that can be made by a group of cicadas.

Later this summer I’m off to Greece so hopefully I’ll be able to experience how the cicadas sound over there. I’ll continue to record them wherever I go as I really find them to be a signature element that often gives definition to a soundscape.