December 16, 2011
It's the time of year when holiday tunes are playing everywhere. But sometimes when you are traveling far away from home in another culture, hearing a Christmas carol or familiar song can be a wonderful reminder of home ... or not.
We were cycling in Northern Thailand during Christmas. We pedaled into a small town northwest of Chiang Mai. I heard a familiar tune. Jingle Bells. It wasn't Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole singing. It was one of those little Christmas trees with blinking lights and a chip that plays a loop of holiday favorites.
As we got closer, we realized that the storefront window was filled with these things ... all competing with each other.
Before you listen to the clip below, I'm going to give you fair warning that this is an earworm for me. There is something about the obnoxious sound quality and the hideous way that Jingle Bells transitions to Santa Claus is Coming to Town that haunts me to this day. I can't hear Jingle Bells without this version playing in the background of my mind.
If you do listen, you'll hear a couple of motor scooters go by and you'll also hear Silent Night from another cheap plastic tree competing with Jingle Bells.
Not all the sounds of travel are pleasant ones. Unfortunately, this one has stuck with me.
If you have listened to the audio file and want something more pleasing to bring you back into the holiday spirit, you can check out my post from last year. It is a medley of tunes I recorded in Seville, Spain.
Photos by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.