Travel Sounds

You know how when you hear a song you instantly travel through time to a specific moment? We think that this is the travel equivalent of that song. Granted, you weren't with us in Hong Kong for the new year celebration, but if you close your eyes and listen, maybe you can be there with us. Not to see what we see, but to hear what we hear(d). Because travel is supposed to be transforming and transporting. And not just about the images.

Travel Sounds #15: Koto Harp at the portland japanese garden

People sat in the crowded room until there were no seats. Then we stood in all available corners. She closed her eyes and placed her fingers upon the strings and inhaled. We never heard the exhale for the flurry of sounds coming from the koto erased everything - our thoughts, our dreams. Nothing was left for us to do but to close our eyes and inhale.

Travel Sounds #14: Gnaouan Music of Morocco

We were back in civilization after wandering the Sahara with our guide for 4 nights. Lights and a roof and a kitchen seemed a shock to our system. We wanted to be back in the sand and under the stars. So much so that I left my bed and slept on the floor by the window so I could feel the breeze.

Our guide started playing this soft gentle song of the Gnaoua, but ended it by saying his people weren't slaves so he couldn't sing or play it properly. His people were Tuareg. His people were nomads. His people were free.

Travel Sounds #13: Under a Borrowed Umbrella in Vermiglio, Italy

The umbrella was trim and tailored and grey with a carved wooden handle. And old. The clasp to hold it together is a metal circle and a button. It seemed to require a better dressed companion than myself. Somebody with a hat and a tie and polished shoes. 

We made it to the restaurant without using it but were blown there by the impending storm you hear, but while we ate we watched people coming in soaked and knew that soon it would be our turn.

Travel Sounds #12: Picking Malva in Vermiglio, Italy

The malva plants are abuzz with sleepy frosty sugar covered bees that dip and slide in and out of the purple flowers. The plants themselves can get over 5 feet tall. I walk through them like a field of young corn in mid America, the sun is blazing so I squat and then sit before my legs go numb and with both hands rustle the big green leaves aside to wrest the pollen laden flowers from the stem with a satisfying snick snick snick. Their shade protects me from the sun. Nothing but patience protects me from the sting of the bee.

Travel Sounds #11: Bird Sounds on Hike in Borjomi, Georgia

This short loop that starts just across from the Borjomi tourist information booth is no joke. It starts out with a steep ascent and continues with that until you reach the 1,200 meter (or nearly 4,000 foot) top where it flattens out into a skinny ridge for a bit. Then it drops back down. This short sound was taken after I stopped huffing and puffing and stood among the silent trees. That's when the bird started chirping. I have no idea what kind of bird, and I never saw it, but his call was nice and piercing! Read more about our 5 Days in Borjomi if you are so inclined.

Travel Sounds #10: Metekhi St. Virgin Church, Tbilisi, Georgia

We were in a small room in the corner where the saint Shushanik is buried. Listening to the chanting and the bells and the singing when the priest came to shake his incense into the room. He surprised us, but we surprised him more. I didn't realize I took this picture until later that day.

Travel Sounds #9: Monk playing the piano at Plum village, France

There is surprisingly little for a monk to do in their down time. Quite often at Plum Village I found them singing or strumming a guitar. There were instruments everywhere, and this common room had an out of tune piano that this monk hauntingly played while I did yoga.

Travel Sounds #8: Church Bells in Locronan, France

The bitter wind cut through and around corners on this January day in Locronan France. There was no hiding from it. Most of Brittany is closed in January, so our options for refuge were the patisserie and the crepe place, both of which we sought and lingered in. Read more about the charming town of Locronan, France!

Travel Sounds #7: Whitelee Wind Farm, Scotland

The monoliths stand on the rolling hillsides like visitors from the future. Robots. Metronomes. Sentinels. In other parts of Scotland there are standing stones that are 6,000 years old. These wind turbines are their descendants. In thousands of years from now there will be questions about their use and how they were erected. Read our post about Tips on Visiting the Whitelee Wind Farm in Scotland!

Travel Sounds #6: Cowbells in Vermiglio, Italy

I was picking loads of fresh mint when I heard the bells getting closer and closer to the field. The farmer had let these cows out into the field directly behind ours. I picked up a handful of dandelion greens and mint and went over to feed them. They didn't want what I had until I threw it to them. It was a nice little break watching them grazing in the sun, occasionally butting heads and jockeying for the best position. This is why we travel.

Travel Sounds #5: Thunderstorms in Colombo, Sri Lanka

While Colombo was not our favorite place (more on that another time), we did get to witness some amazing thunderstorms. The claps of thunder and sparks of lightening were unlike anything I'd ever seen and heard before. Also, the incredible volumes of rain that would descend was incredible. I thought those of you in snowy and cold climes could perhaps do with a good old fashioned thunderstorm right about now. I love the sound of a good hard rain, hope you enjoy too.

Travel Sounds #5: Sunday Market Chiang Mai

Our first trip to the Sunday market in Chiang Mai had us bustling through crowded streets - merchants, foreigners and locals all vying for space in the narrow lanes lined with merch. I was inspired to purchase a pair of trousers from a local gal and suddenly this song broke out. Our transaction was halted mid sentence and everyone in the market went silent and turned in one direction. We were preplexed but followed along, not sure what sort of public announcement was taking place - mass panic did not ensue so we felt pretty sure we weren't in danger. We came to learn that everyday at 6:00 this song for the king plays and everyone stops to honor him. In fact, this day was also the king's birthday so people were extra inspired. As you can hear, as soon as the song ended, everything went back to normal and all went back to roaming and buying. 

Travel Sounds #4: Paris Post Attack = Defiant & Strong

We visited Paris two days after the attacks, and while there was some tension in the air, the general vibe was defiance. Defiance for a way of life that has been celebrated for hundreds of years in food, film, literature, and art. 
The sounds of this crepe shop confirm my feelings on terrorism - it won't stop, so we can't stop.

Travel Sounds #3: The Sea Organ in Zadar, Croatia

The Sea Organ in Zadar, Croatia is like a dog kicking its feet while dreaming if the dog were the Adriatic Sea; instead of dreaming of running & chasing cats or cars, it's all moon and whale.

If you have a chance to travel to Croatia, you should make your way to Zadar and sit on the steps with a drink during sunset and take in the sounds of the Adriatic breathing in and out.

Travel Sounds #2: The Waterfalls at Krka National Park, Croatia

A deafening crescendo of constant sound as you travel further and further upstream at the Krka National Park in Croatia. The mist rises and slowly coats your body, your glasses, your hair and camera lens. It's best to just stand still at the river's edge, and let the sound erase you.

Travel Sounds #1: Random Street Sounds from Split, Croatia

From open windows fall the notes of instruments being tuned and given their run, open mouths can be heard too and it feels like Italy until the trumpet starts on Gershwin and the tea shop gives off the scent of warm relief because let's face it, the streets are narrow here and while sound may carry, the sun only visits briefly.