Moments in fourteen countries over three months.

August 18th, 2011

I am in the Midi Pyrenees for some downtime in preparation for writing a new body of work. Castelsagrat is a small rustic town. I am staying in a large stone house covered in geckos bathing in 36 degree heat, ducking into crevices as I walk by. Rose scent fills the air, gypsies hang outside the gate playing flamenco guitar singing and clapping hands. Elderly french ladies stand in their doorways with tastefully painted shutters opening to families singing loudly over dinner. Dogs howl in unison with the town clock bells ringing for what seems like half the day and the community gathers for the petanque cup as I laze beside the pool, clink, clink, clink is heard through the hedge.


This is the life. I have travelled through fourteen countries in three months and now I am resting my mind is bubbling with content and dreams are full and lucid. In each place I have been a part of me is lost and a new part of me discovered. I have an abundance of photos of Angkor Wat and Jesus carved in every manner. Just yesterday I saw some 800-1200 year old carvings of Jesus Christ and Mary and marytrs and slave girls and hideous disemboweling demons and soul saving saints just 20 minutes down the road. During lunch. This is new for a kiwi.


I have seen so much it is near impossible to put it all into words…. but heres a few…


Cambodia… elephant terrace and ‘gingerbread’ towers, limbless genius musicians, angkor wat, charitable family run organisation ‘Seven Candles’, $2US 2 litre 42 degree below vodka, teeth and bone fragments and a column of skulls at the killing fields and the soul destroying school house turned genocide centre- S-21 where blood is still crusted on the floors, 40 years later. Dad’s history book knowledge.


Laos… sensing a country’s silent pain and poverty, secret war, prehistoric Plain of Jars, caves of the communists, beautiful cadmium monks, delicious noodle soup with tomato, fresh mint, green beans and chilli, ragged dogs, stopping the boat or van at weaving villages and buying off the loom, racing the chief of the village in a home-brewed whiskey drinking ceremony, duck blood and liver speciality, flashlights in longboats on silent muddy rivers, firefly constellations. Lusting over dimly lit embroidered and appliqued masterpieces at Luang Prabang’s night markets. Dad’s history book knowledge.


Kuala Lumpur… hanging with Ella and Elan, daily pop music intake with dahl roti, hand-bubbled tea tarik, the best vegetarian banana leaf, dahl and soup in the world outside Sunway at ‘Chokdee Spice’, heat waves at 8am, the colours of Islam, sand and turquoise reflected in the kitsch hotel facades and  looming condos set against horizons lit with sheet lightening that never ends, extreme Islam women face to toe in black, shopping for Rolex’s with their cooly dressed white cotton counterparts.


Singapore… Discovering funky Haji lane amongst the prada/gucciesque glamour of Singapore. Bubble Tea. Finding ‘Tofu’ the bleached white housebound lapdog on the white duvet cover only because of his black nose and eyes. Overcoming the polarity of presenting original songs to less than five interested people per night at TAB (capacity 1000) on Singapores’ superficial highway of pop- Orchard Road. Accidentally landing myself in a shopping mall of prostitutes when trying to access air-con during my performance break. Watching people placing incense and flowers on the road side shrine by the bus station and running children stopping to hold their hands in prayerful respect.


London…. Charles Dickens tunnels and cobblestones, the comfort of family, Eastenders housing, the smell of mince, toast, mustard, cheap perfume and oldies that look like my rellies. Summer berries. The White Cliffs of Dover.


Brugge…  Fairytale houses the colours and texture of nougat with staggered rooves and fairytale gardens and doorways fit for hobbits. Nuns in habits and silence. Swans floating, reflected on canals. Canal going tourists disguised by brollies from above. Golden saints, Christs blood. Carved peasants holding up saints. Chocolate and lollies, drinking monk brewed beer beneath a full moon, dodging maggots on the couch surfing kitchen floor and tactfully avoiding sight of his genitalia and his ex-wifes “charlies” when obligingly looking through holiday pics. Laughing off the suggestion that I always wear pantyhose to avoid blinding people with my white legs during my shows.


Amsterdam… Brutal north pole weather, reggae gigs and posters for gigs I couldn’t make but wished I could, blonde and blue eyes, stomping through puddles in my 4 inch wedges to get on stage for my set at Timboektoe, forcing Ben to partake at the coffee shops, fluffy rabbit toys with giant genitals, sleeping a lot, stroopwafles (a lot of), industrial beaches, Olly de Jeu.


Germany… aerial tissue dancers, new school dance parties for the sleepy older crowd, hoola hoop, ping pong, public karaoke, drum circle reminding me of my teen years, Jeff’s daily sausage consumption, bread and cheese and beer, fashionable Hamburg. Letting a young lady from the audience at Hasenschaukel feel my legs to see if they are truly as hairless and translucent as they look.


Czech… Solitary Prague castle mission, with screaming dark gargoyles and frozen guards. Envying young lovers then listening to them fight. Watching the sunset over Prague, orange roofs and terraced vineyards put to bed by shadow. Mucha and Dali museum. Bemusedly watching a terrible didgeridoo player and proud young Kermit the Frog falsetto throat singer be videoed on mass by appreciative tourists throwing them money. Band frisbee. Kutna Hora’s eccentric Sedlec ossary of bones, walking inside the roof of Chrám Nanebevzetí Panny Marie church, spending a day in the countryside with Linda, taking photos in a sunflower field, picking fresh plums off the tree and feeding up fluffy bunnies they would later eat.


Switzerland… Entering Ono through the cellar door, being transformed during the show due to the appreciative audience, turquoise waters and the wonderful time with Matt and Monica in Bischofszell. Playing Swiss anniversary day surrounded by rasta and swiss flags in the sun next to a pig farm to the whole town and loving it. Chilling with the peeps and feeling at home.


Jersey… huge fresh scallops doused in chilli, onion, coriander and capsicum!!  Dancing with the drunks to a local rock band after a day of sun, gambling my jersey pound notes away, and chatting with the locals. Camping in a tent again, visiting paleolithic fertility and birthing sites under the full moon, spending a day in a crash course of hands-on sound-engineering and surprising myself. Getting to know the locals. Quality conversation, performance and appreciation. Exposure to eccentrics and creatives. And pondering the truth to inbreeding on the island.


France… Delicious homecooked meal and generous hospitality by the crew at Le Grattoir and enjoying the dated hotel decor upstairs. The amazing romantic fortressed town of St Malo at sunset. Beautiful whitewashed La Rochelle… brie, camembert, pain au chocolat, abricot pastries, and our time in Castelsagrat (see above).


I am logging out for a while and will let the next stream of words fall on the writing pad. See you again after Spain and Portugal.

X Hannah






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