I listen to a lot of music when I am travelling. It makes the long journeys bearable as my mind meanders through daydreams and fantasies inspired and directed by the mood of the tunes. My ipod has been back and forth to Southeast Asia twice and has kept me sane on some of the hairiest bus journey’s of my life.
Luang Prabang – Note the mountains behind me
I took the overnight bus from Luang Prabang in Northern Laos down to the capital of Vientiane. The North of the country consists of nothing but mountains and undulating landscape. The roads are precipitous, and the bus drivers are maniacs. There are no street lamps in the countryside and the journey is hours of swirling around mountain roads with sharp drops to the side and a very bumpy surface. My friend and I turned up too late at the bus station to get a ticket for the ‘VIP’ bus and so we bought tickets for the local bus. This meant we were the only tourists on the bus which was overloading with people, animals, and various goods. Before we departed the bus driver walked through the bus handing each passenger a plastic bag – this was the first sign of the treacherous journey ahead of us. Fortunately, my friend had the foresight to buy us some anti-sickness tablets and valium which we took straight away before munching away on our baguettes for dinner. Luckily for me within half an hour my eyes were heavy and I fell into a deep dark sleep to the sounds of Stina Nordenstam.
(This is the ‘newer’ bus from the second time I went to Laos. Notice the back propped open to air the engine? –Eeeek!)
Stina Nordenstam allowed my mind to drift though ethereal forests of serene calm while the world around me was vomiting in the aisles. It was only after 6 hours or so my eyes were light enough to open and see the tumultuous landscape around us – I quickly tightened my eyes again and let Stina continue to take my mind away from a body uncomfortably stiffened in a semi-foetal upright position on the runaway bus from hell.
Vang Vieng – Notice the terrain
Unlike most of the Lao people on that journey, I managed not to vomit, and not remain scarred for the rest of my life. I arrived in the capital of this forgotten country in the early hours of the morning to be greeted with the most wonderful sight in Southeast Asia – the Monks walking through town receiving alms. So peaceful and calm, these Monks stop at each dwelling where the occupants have set up a small table with a bowl of rice and lit with a candle. Each Monk receive an handful of rice and walk onto the next. A wonderful ending to my calm minded/physically dangerous bus journey.
This is just one example of the truly great experiences good music can lend to the travelling experience. And so, with my expedition looming (only a week to go!) I am on the search for more music to enhance my trip.
Here are my top albums for travelling:
One Giant Leap – One Giant Leap
Stina Nordenstam – And She Closed Her Eyes
Radiohead – The Bends
The National – Boxer
Of Montreal -The Sunlandic Twins
Nick Drake – Pink Moon
Plus several awesome mixtapes my favourite Canadian made for me. She’s pretty damn good at them.
Dear readers, would any of you like to contribute to my musical pleasure? Recommendations, opinions and mixtapes are most welcome!