I have just read this description in a story by Somerset Maugham: “the noise of the jungle at night is uncanny because you feel that at that hour there should be utter silence … it has an odd effect on you, that ceaseless and invisible uproar that beats your nerves. It surrounds and hems you in.” I know exactly what he means. Malaysia is home to the largest and noisiest species of cicada. When I first heard them, I thought one of our neighbours had started up a chainsaw! I’ve never got used to it. The sound of the cicadas and the boom of the frogs make the nights here extremely raucous. That together with the humid heat can indeed make one feel hemmed in. Thank goodness for air conditioning, which they wouldn’t have had when Somerset Maugham was travelling around Asia.