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June 16, 2010

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Cup noise: 1 Neighbors: 0

The World Cup sound of the vuvuzela, the ear-splitting plastic trumpet from South Africa, is proving a nightmare for residents along Shanghai's famous Hengshan Road bar street.

Many are complaining they can sleep only two or three hours a night as the football fans at the bars across the street blare loud constant noises with vuvuzelas when watching the World Cup games, some of which don't start until 2:30am.

The residents are defending themselves from the sound attack by installing double-glazed windows, adopting a nocturnal lifestyle and sleeping by day - even selling their apartments and leaving the area.

Bao Peiying, a resident on the 13th floor of the Heng'an Building, said she decided to move to the suburbs because she could no longer endure the vuvuzela din.

"The trumpet is a disaster. The noise doesn't remind me of the World Cup, but it does give me a picture of South African animals," said Bao. "It sounds like a herd of charging animals when the fans play the trumpets all together, and the solo sounds like the marching of mosquitoes."

She said she had thought a million times before of moving away from Hengshan Road because of the noise from bars at midnight, but she remained because she had "evolved to be immune from the normal noises."

The bartenders who work along the strip of Hengshan Road and nearby Gao'an Road denied they were responsible for the racket. They said they didn't sell the trumpets and there are no regulations banning the instruments from the bars.

Some bar owners have answered the neighborhood complaints by going door to door and offering a few of the nearest residents money.

A resident surnamed Tang, 81, said that only a few residents had received the 500 yuan to 2,000 yuan compensation from bar owners.

Other residents went to their neighborhood committee and demanded that the noise cease, but haven't received an answer.

The noise isn't a nuisance to everyone, however. For some it's a business opportunity.

Tang noted that stall vendors have capitalized on the plastic trumpets during the World Cup, some making loud noises themselves to attract football fans outside the bars on Gao'an Road.

"My ears were sore because they came every day, late at night, and played the trumpets everywhere, just like a marching band," said Tang.

Some bars are using the noisemakers to win customers. A bartender working at the Gao Li Bar at No. 31 Gao'an Road said customers could receive a free vuvuzela if they spent more than 500 yuan and paid by Visa card.

The trumpet is also a hot item on, one of the country's biggest online shopping Websites.

About 120 online vendors are selling vuvuzelas, with the eye-catching description: "The world's loudest trumpets that may kill the elephants."


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