Corinne – Metronomy

Phewa Lake, Pokhara

“I got my heart tied up now with a boom and a bang

I’m not gonna find you again

I got my heart tied up now with a boom and a bang

I’m not gonna find you again”

 I started listening to Metronomy two years ago. The last time I listened to their album “The English Rievera” was when I was in Saigon last year and my favorite song in the album back then was “The Bay”. Riding my scooter through empty streets of Saigon at night and listening to this song was one of the best experiences ever!

I listened to this album again when I was in Pokhara during New Year and fell in love with “Corinne”. I couldn’t stop listening it on almost every bus rides in Pokhara and I listened to it on the long bus back to Kathmandu and now I need to listen to it every day. It’s an addiction. It’s haunting me. When I listen to the song, I think about Pokhara: foggy and cloudy and beautiful Pokhara on rainy days, Pokhara where I met so many nice friendly people, Pokhara with peaceful bus rides (much more peaceful compared to those crazy ones in Kathmandu),  Pokhara where I couldn’t stop myself coming back every time I had long holidays, and Pokhara where memories with some special people who I’ll never forget will forever stay beautiful.

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Illusion is mine – Ling toshite shigure

Minolta x570, Fuji Superia 200 (expired)

I have a soft spot for (indie) J-rock (and anything related to Japanese culture haha). This song found me a few months ago and after a week of having the replay button abused, I haven’t listened to it ever since until tonight. It stirred up many levels of emotion in me and before I realized brought tears to my eyes. I remember the nights this song accompanied me and my scooter through the emptied streets of Saigon. The act of being embraced in absolute solitude with music and speed is so satisfying yet haunting. I stopped myself to listen to the song when I came to realize that I couldn’t handle how emotional it caused me and how my hidden fears were brought to the surface. It is undeniably a beautiful song.

: )

A journey with a Ukulele

I’m struggling with self-learning Ukulele at the moment! I got this little fun Hawaiian instrument a couple of days ago after I came back in Saigon. She’s already got her name: Pinee-uke : D. When I saw this Kala ukulele, immediately I knew that we’re meant to be together. She looks cute in a pineapple shape and she makes lovely sounds. She’s one of the best things I’ve ever got this year!

I have an old friend in Holland who was also my neighbor (I never asked how old he was but I guessed he must be really old because he looked like a hippie version of professor Dumbledore to me, haha). He played drums at a pub in Groningen and he asked me once that I should come visit him there and join his band. I told him I didn’t play any instruments. He said that we can make everything “our” instruments. We can use pots, pans, pencils, bottles, glasses, and many things more. We can whistle, clap our hands, jump our feet, or hum. We can basically make music out of anything! Music resides within each of us and anyone is able to make music. That’s so true! But I always want to learn some proper instrument(s).

It’s a shame that I haven’t picked anything to play even though learning an instrument has been in my bucket list for years. Many excuses were made: no time, many things to do, excessive traveling, and so on. Those all lame excuses have kept me from learning an instrument for years! I tried to learn guitar four years ago but it’s always awkward to hold one with my left hand on the fret board and my right hand on the strings. I was wondering back then if I was a leftie when it came to playing guitar but now I can kind of hold it comfortably. Giving it another go, I began my self-taught journey with my dad’s guitar last month but it didn’t turn out well. I need something simpler, easier, also lighter and portable so that my learning won’t be interrupted when I travel.

Immediately I thought about a ukulele. I’ve known about this cute little cousin of guitar and followed some ukulele artists for many years. The first time I touched a ukulele was two years ago when I was in South Carolina. One of the Hongkong girls I know had one and we often sang along the lovely melody from her ukulele with many other friends in the “Horseshoe”  – the main park on campus. Back in Groningen, living with Danielle and discovering she owns a Ukulele was one of the best things ever. I played with it a few times and fell in love with the sound even more. I thought to myself that I’d like to learn this cheerful four-string instrument someday.

I feel like ukuleles are made for players like me who feels intimidated by musical instruments. What I like about my learning so far is that I truly enjoy it. I feel like I’m more and more in tune with my Pinee and I’m always eager to learn more. It hasn’t demotivated me and scared me off! It’s always hard in the beginning to learn something that feels unnatural but once the joy of learning comes into play everything would be easier. I think it’s time to get over the fear that I’m so dumb when it comes to learning music (haha). Ukulele is definitely easier for me to learn because I feel so motivated thinking that I can actually bring this little toy anywhere and have fun with it whenever I want in whichever way I like. However,  I’m not saying that ukulele is easier to play than guitar just because it has fewer strings! Watching others play ukulele reminds me that I have a very long way to go (right now I can only play very basic children songs haha). I just want to say that the beginning is the most important phase of my learning curve and I’ve been enjoying that phase so far. Adjusting myself to something new is inevitably frustrating but it’s also exciting and I’m happy with my slow progression so far. Of course, to play better needs time, effort, and determination. I’m trying to form  a habit of practicing my ukulele for a little bit every morning. I’m looking forward to bringing her with me on my next trips! : D

Here are some songs with the ukulele I like: Amanda Palmer, one of my favorite musician/women/feminists/writers… and her Ukulele anthem:

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Amanda’s cover of Radiohead’s Creep:

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Sungha Jung (this guy is a genius *_*)  – Let it go (Frozen’s OST)

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Jason Castro – Somewhere over the rainbow (this is one of my favorite versions of the song)

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Priscilla Ahn – Find my way back home (I’ve been following Priscilla Ahn for years but I’ve only seen this video recently. Her songs seem good for my practice :D)

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George Formby – When I’m cleaning windows

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The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (They performed in Groningen last year but I couldn’t get a ticket! =_=)

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Noah and the Whale – 5 years time