I like music. I like concerts. I get caught up in the moment, sync with the crowd and fall in love with the world. The stickiest of floors couldn’t hold me down nor the sweat of 1,000 overcharged revellers dampen my spirits.
I love these experiences at home. I’m amongst friends, I know a bed-bug free mattress is just a taxi ride away and i’m not going to wake anyone up as I stumble about to find my bed in the dark and set my alarm clock for the 5am train to Vladivostock. I’ve noticed though that when I travel the mass musical orgy doesn’t really do it for me. At home it’s about freeing your mind from the prison of daily life but when travelling the object is the opposite. You want to immerse yourself in a place not escape it. Enrich your mind not lose it.
That’s why my favourite musical experiences overseas haven’t taken place in stadiums full of people but when i think of them everything about the culture of a place, the people, the sounds, the smells, the intangible and ever-indescribable vibe of a place comes flooding back.
One such experience took place as I was peering into my tumbler full of rum and contemplating the possible ill effects it could produce after two straight days of snorkelling in the sun. I was on Mabul Island, off the coast of Sabah in Malaysia listening to the sea lapping away under the decidedly insecure planks of the over-water deck we were sitting on. I had seen more fish in two days at Sipadan than I was likely to see in a lifetime and I had made the startling discovery that people I hadn’t grown up with and had nothing but the nomadic lifestyle in common with might actually like me.
I was a solo traveller, i had made friends and i was happy. We were all sitting around sipping island rum and chatting to the local diving instructors when a boat pulled up and a bunch of raggedy looking youths spilled out carrying what appeared to be an old plastic oil drum and a guitar so shabby it looked like it had been floating in the sea since the early sixties and had just washed up onshore. I couldn’t believe it when they kicked their dodgy speaker system into life and started cranking out some of the best covers i had ever heard.
I later found out that Uncle Chang, the owner, paid these youths from the mainland to play in order to keep them away from drugs and street-crime. They were loving their rockstar status. Needless to say, I decided to ignore the possible ill effects, downed a number of rums and under the island moonlight the garbage band played on. ….endless renditions, in varying tempos, of the Uncle Chang song…. Well i’m glad to say, the drop-off’s ok, hey!, Barracuda point’s not far away, lobster lair is also there and the hanging gardens are very rare.
Author: Anna Jura is a wishful traveller and Secretariat at Gate7 in Sydney, Australia working on behalf of Backpacking Queensland. Anna recently completed a full year round the world trip.