Sounds Around the World

My top 25 sounds from Around the World

When video wasn’t needed or possible, I used my Voice Memos utility to record sound. So glad I did this.

When I listen to these, I’m immersed in the place and time they were recorded. Most have animal noises or music. Most are soothing, but a few came with fright. And a couple of the sound files are of people’s voices. Sorry for the quality and volume variation – some you need to turn the volume all the way up to hear (like ‘Animal – Serengeti’), and some are too loud! Most are less than a minute long.

In chronological order:

Ocean Waves: Mantaray Island, Yasawas, Fiji  I felt so amazingly relaxed and at peace here. I recorded this when I was in my hut at night, door open, with the South Pacific a few feet away and a sea of stars overhead. It felt like the end of the Earth. 

Shop and Save Commercial: Taveuni Island, FijiI heard this on the radio soooo many times when I was in the country, I had to record it! It’s a catchy jingle, too. The popping sound in the background is of two guys playing a game of ping-pong😂

Shrine Dance: TokyoSoon after I arrived in Japan, I walked to a square by one of the main shrines, and I found this crowd of people. I couldn’t really see anything, just a few seconds here and there, but just enough to determine this was some sort of dance performance related to the shrine (one of those moments you wish you were taller). I recorded the sound since I couldn’t see. The reason I like this so much is because you can kind of imagine what the dance is they’re doing, just by hearing the music. Can you picture it? 

Christmas Song: Kyoto, JapanThis song, Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime, was playing in a department store. It made me smile because 1.) my family has ‘a thing’ with this song, and every time we hear it playing randomly during the holidays, we call each other and just let it play or leave eachother voicemails of it playing and 2.) because I was aching for the holidays, and it made me feel like I was home for a few minutes.

Temple Chime: Kusatsu, JapanKusatsu is a picturesque town known for it’s healing onsens (hot springs). I heard this when I was walking the tiny stone streets and exploring.

Monk Chanting: Bagan, MyanmarTouring the temples in Bagan, one of them had huge loud speakers set up outside, blasting music miles away. I thought initially it was just a recording, but when I got to the main alter of the temple, I realized there was a real-life monk sitting on the floor, in front of the microphone, reciting Suttras. I saw this incantation in other temples after this. Remarkable. 

Afternoon Call to Prayer: Galle, Sri Lanka Although I don’t agree with the intrusive nature of the ‘adhan’, or Muslim call to prayer, and this whole trip I have felt relief when I’m in places where I don’t hear it, I like this sound file because it makes me recall how unique of a place Galle is. Such a broad and interesting mixture of cultures and traditions over time. And it’s a beautiful spot on this planet.

Manic Taxi Driver: Mumbai, IndiaMy taxi driver in Mumbai was crazy, and this ride with him was one of maybe three times on my entire trip that I truly felt scared for my safety. He was wearing a plain white thobe and a white taqiyah, he was small and truly manic – singing, hysterically laughing, and then yelling at me in a little english and Hindi(?). I was happy to get out of his car and know that I never had to see him again. In the recording, he is winding down, singing less loudly and slower than the previous two-three minutes.

Local Bus Ride: Goa, India – Goa is a beach town with colorful – but dust-dipped – villages every couple hundred meters. They look fuzzy under their sheath of dirt, as if you could hose down the entire town and buildings with water, it would instantly look like Rainbow Land after Rainbow Brite defeats the King of Shadows. I was going from North Goa to Candolim (Central Goa), and I felt like I was on the magic school bus, journeying into unknown lands. Like most of the local buses in India, the sides are huge open windows with straps of metal in between holding the bus together. This makes for a good view and the ability to experience your surroundings by smell, sound, sight, and feel (namely, very high ambient temperature). I was dreaming I was one of them, living in Goa and selling fresh-squeezed lime soda in a roadside stand. I’d sell around ten drinks each day, and I’d close up shop when it got dark out, to walk home and sleep, in order to get up early the next morning and do the same thing. On the weekends, I’d go to the beach with family and read books by Tagore (because my father liked him), Narayan, and sometimes Rushdie, but his only when alone. Then, we passed a family clinic that had a poster on the front that talked about eradicating worms in children (it read: “Worm free children are happy children”), and my thoughts changed to consider, again, how different our every day concerns as human beings can be. Recurring buzz words appeared: perspective and gratitude. Still, this was a great magic bus ride.

Beach Restaurant Live Music: GoaIn South Goa, the night before I flew to Kochi, I had dinner at a restaurant on the beach that just happened to have live music. The singer was Indian, but he sounded so… American:) I love the way the cool breeze off the ocean feels at night, after a day full of sunshine.

Dueling Places of Worship Music: Ooty, IndiaIt’s hard to hear, but (beyond the birdsong), in Ooty, I stayed at a B&B on the hill above town, so on Sunday night, I could hear the music from the church (St. Stephen’s) and the music from the mosque. I loved Ooty and the place I stayed, so remembering sitting outside on the hill, doing nothing except listening, makes me happy.

Animal Sound, Camping: Serengeti Nat’l Park, TanzaniaIn the middle of the Serengeti, unfenced, just a thin layer of material called a tent between me and the lions… this was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. The animal noise on this clip kept waking me up, all night, off and on. I’m still not sure what it was – maybe hyena?

Explaining Impala Mating: Tour Guide, SerengetiI love this because of Marko’s accent, and also because he’s genuinely explaining something that’s interesting, but at the same time it’s totally f-ing hilarious.

Plane Announcement in Swahili: somewhere over TanzaniaSolely because I find the Swahili language aesthetically interesting.

Music and Traffic in Car: Arusha, TanzaniaThis was the day before my safari, and I had to go get money from the ATM to pay the company for the safari. We were riding in one of the guide’s cars with the windows down, listening to the radio, and we had just driven by a huge security detail because four or five Presidents of East African countries were meeting together in Arusha that day.

‘A Travel Prayer for the Holy Quran’ on Etihad Plane: Abu Dhabi, UAEI flew Etihad quite a bit because I went from India to UAE, UAE to Tanzania, Tanzania to UAE, and UAE to Istanbul all on Etihad. I won’t lie – it was a little unnerving to hear at first because the man’s voice is different than the rest of the pre-flight announcements, and it sounds very serious! Anyway, a little bit of forced religion – kind of like making grade school kids say the Pledge of Allegiance every day before class. I had part of this memorized after the fourth time I heard it😆. 

Whirling Dervish Orchestra: IstanbulThis is music from the Whirling Dervish show, which was quite memorable, but didn’t allow photo or video, so I secretly audio taped a snippet🙂

Nightlife Sounds: Dubrovnik, CroatiaI really love this memory. I was walking through the tiny cobbled walkways of Dubrovnik at around 8pm, and it felt like I was whizzing through a movie scene. In The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, my favorite scene is when the movie shows a cross-section of the boat and the camera moves through different rooms on the boat, while Bill Murray explains their function (“Let me tell you about my boat“). As I moved through the streets of Dubrovnik, I felt like I was touring an ecosystem of some kind, where it all felt connected, even though probably none of it was. The belltower clock bell striking. Piano practice in one house. People talking. Garbage being dropped on the street. A man’s heavy shoes hitting the ground. A classical music record playing in an upstairs apartment. A fork hitting a plate in someone’s kitchen. It was the sounds of a street symphony, the elements intertwined by humanity and being alive. 

Restaurant Sounds: Kotor, MontenegroWhat a nice surprise little Kotor Bay is… on this night, I had octopus for dinner and watched the passersby. 

Sacré-Cœur Morning: ParisI walked to Sacré-Cœur just after sunrise to be able to stand on the hill overlooking Paris with relative quiet. It was so nice. Just me, the doves (pigeons), and the dudes cleaning up the broken bottles from the night before😆. Then I walked through Montmartre neighborhood watching the Cafes set up their outside tables for the day. Lovely, romantic morning alone😁.

Riad Rooftop Sunrise Sounds: Marrakech, Morocco This simply makes me think of beautiful places and blissful mornings. 

Drums: Sahara Desert, Morocco  In the desert, after dinner, our guides had a drumming/singing session.

Southern Cross: Tierra del Fuego, ChileI have a spiritual advisor who told me once that his favorite song is “Southern Cross”. I was thinking about the song when I was driving one night in southern-southern Chile because I looked up to the sky, and the stars were ablaze – the Southern Cross prominent. So I played the song in the car. It was one of those connecting-with-the-lyrics-and-memories type moments. I had listened to the song previously, but I didn’t think too much about what it is actually about. Stephen Stills said about the song that he wrote: “…it’s a story about a long boat trip I took after my divorce. It’s about using the power of the universe to heal your wounds.” It clicked – that’s why he told me about this song☺️😍 This is a portion of it:

Penguins: King Penguin Park, Chile It was an unforgettable experience seeing penguins in the wild❤️.

Waterfalls: Iguazu Falls, Argentina This might be the most beautiful place on earth.

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