Most people would agree Hong Kong is a noisy city. There are numerous construction sites. Residential buildings often have apartments undergoing renovation. When I lived in Wanchai years ago, three apartments below and above me had renovations one after another. The people above me played the piano all day. The noise affected my health so much that I had to move out. Dim sum restaurants and restaurants that serve Chinese food are particularly noisy. Nothing has changed since I returned to Hong Kong recently for a short visit.
I can see three apartments undergoing renovation from my serviced apartment balcony. Luckily, I cannot hear the noise because they are not near me. I recently went to a well-known Shanghainese restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui for dinner with eight relatives. There was so much noise from the other tables that it seemed everyone was talking at the top of their lungs. My family members and I were sitting at a corner round table but still could hardly hear each other. To talk at the top of one’s lungs means to talk extremely loudly. It has the same meaning as “at the top of one’s voice”.
The noise reminded me of the expression “hear a pin drop”. It is impossible to hear a pin or needle drop in a noisy place. The expression is used to describe a place where there is total silence. You can say that the top of Mount Everest is so quiet that you can hear a pin drop. I doubt there is anywhere in Hong Kong quiet enough to hear a pin drop!
現在從我的服務式住宅看出去，可以見到有三個單位正在進行裝修工程。幸好，我沒有聽到噪音，因為它們跟我並不近。我最近去了尖沙嘴一間知名的上海餐廳，跟八位親戚晚膳。從另一張枱傳來的人聲嘈得像人人都在聲嘶力竭地（at the top of their lungs）交談。我跟家人已經坐在角落一個圓枱，卻仍然幾乎聽不到對方說話。To talk at the top of one’s lungs是指放聲、大聲地說話，它跟“at the top of one’s voice”的意思一樣。
噪音令我聯想起另一個習語“hear a pin drop”。在一個嘈吵的地方，不可能聽到大頭針或針掉在地上的聲音。這個習語是用來形容一個地方完全寂靜無聲。你可以說，珠穆朗瑪峰的山巔上萬籟俱寂，靜得連針掉在地上你也能聽得到（hear a pin drop）。我懷疑香港到底有沒有一個地方是鴉雀無聲的，靜得足以讓人聽到針掉在地上的聲音（hear a pin drop）！