As a recordist, I aim to capture the ambiances of places that I visit. I often record nature and the wild soundscapes that I discover around the world and these feature heavily on this blog. But I find human and urban soundscapes equally fascinating and these can leave some long lasting imprints on my memory. One such soundscape is the following street party that I recorded on the outskirts of Vang Vieng in Laos.
When we arrived in Vang Vieng, I was a bit taken aback. The small town has become a backpacker-oriented town, featuring on the “to do list” of many backpackers touring South-East Asia. Sadly, it is not the beautiful karst hill landscape surrounding the town that draws tourists, but the craze of “tubing” – floating down the Nam Song River in an inflatable tractor tyre, stopping at numerous bars along the way selling Beer Lao and mojito buckets.
Personally, we decided to stay a bit further out of town and to focus on visiting the surrounding region, something I have no regrets about. It’s a beautiful part of Laos with some of the most stunning landscape features of the country. Throughout our stay, we would hire a motorbike for the day and drive off to discover the surrounding villages, stopping off at turquoise blue lagoons along the way.
On one such trip, we were driving along when we passed a tiny hamlet – literally five small houses grouped together near the dirt track we were travelling along. We had stopped to take a few photos but my ears quickly pricked up when I heard music coming from one of the houses. A party was taking place and the partygoers, mainly women, were playing some of the latest Laotian music. They were singing along and the atmosphere was literally infectious.
To most, this recording may not seem that interesting, but to me this evokes incredible memories of my time in Laos.
The people, the music, the landscapes, the soundscapes.