Friday, November 18, 2016

A matter of comfort

When it comes to comfortable seating, Laos ranks 185 in the world. Given that it's one of the poorest nations in Asia, I can understand that bum-comfort is not a priority. The Lao people have better things to worry about than the loss of feeling in their lower limbs after sitting too long on a plank of wood.

The chairs in this place feel like they were designed to do permanent damage to one's tailbone. I have never come across such physically challenging furniture in any other part of the world. To address this important issue, I have taken to carrying a butt cushion around town. It's a terribly sexy look.

I stumbled across this couch, placed outside a blue-themed home in a village not far from Luang Prabang a little while ago. It's one of the most padded seats in the region. I'd recommend a trip to Ban Donkeo just to sit on it.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Singing like nobody's listening?

A performer once gave me a wise piece of advice. He said, "Even if you feel like it's the worst gig of your life and that nobody is listening, sing to the one person who is listening and sing as if they are the most important person in the world".

A few weeks ago I was asked to represent Australia at the ASEAN Plus Music and Culinary Festival in the capital of Laos, Vientiane. The event had been set up in a shopping mall carpark next to an amusement park.

As I sat on the stage, trying to sing over the din of dodgem car rides and neighbouring stages where techno beats boomed so loudly that they made my heart rattle in my chest, I spotted a couple of blokes with Billabong t-shirts standing in front of me with two little girls on their shoulders who were smiling and waving.

I sang my soul out to those little girls. I sang Hallelujah for Leonard Cohen, whose passing filled me with too much sadness. I closed my eyes and imagined him waltzing at the side of the stage with his stylish hat on. I sang his song full of feeling, even though the majority of Lao people standing before me would have had no idea about the man or his beautiful words and melodies. I sang until tears almost fell from my eyes... and then I left the stage.

It was not the best performance of my life. It was probably one of the most challenging. But I gave it my all. And as I walked into the crowd with my guitar, those two small girls ran up to me, faces beaming, with their arms wide open. They didn't say anything, they just hugged me.