Songs for the Road No. 2: West Africa in Southeast Asia

by Ekua on May 3, 2010 in Laos,songs for the road

Laos was my Southeast Asia savior. I am sure I will delve more into that story at a later point, but I’ll just say that traveling through the country of Vietnam was rough and I’d felt less than welcome there. When I crossed the border into Laos, the immediate mellowness and realness of it was exactly what I’d needed at that point. In the city of Vientiane, with each pleasant interaction, I felt like the country was welcoming me with a gentle, “Sabaideee!”

I was eager to check out Vientiane nightlife scene, so I headed out into town with my guide. We were pretty surprised when we reached the Mekong River’s edge and found a huge festival in progress. Tons of people were out, there were people in costumes riding unicycles, and a band was playing an awesome mix of ska, chanson and punk. When the band finished their set, party music blasted through the loudspeakers.

A song came on and I recognized the percussion beat, and eventually added to that were familiar bass and guitar lines. “No, it can’t be that song, not in Laos,” I thought. But surely enough, as a voice chimed in, I realized it was the song I was thinking it was— Disco Africa, a fairly obscure 70s afrofunk song from Ghana:

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

leslie May 5, 2010 at 7:51 am

ekua, i love this! it is so, so totally laos. the lao to, at all times, through you the most unexpected curve ball possible. come back sometime soon!

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leslie May 5, 2010 at 8:00 am

um, btw, i have a cold and am very sleepy. please excuse my awkward misuse of the word through. i obv meant throw. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Ekua May 5, 2010 at 5:27 pm

I would love to go back to Laos! It was my favorite of the SE Asia countries, followed closely by Cambodia. Word misuse is totally understandable given the botched English you probably hear/see on a regular basis ๐Ÿ˜‰

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leslie May 6, 2010 at 8:00 pm

oh man, you are so right. my english skills are dwindling more quickly than my lao improves. (and yes, love cambodia!)

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Fly Girl May 6, 2010 at 7:27 am

The experience of hearing a familiar and obscure song in an unexpected location is always surreal. I’ve had that happen many times and it just goes to show the universal pull of music.

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