Me-go Mix: Track 6

Posted by on Apr 9, 2008 in Madagascar, Post-Trip | No Comments

Me-go Mix: Track 6
“Manahirana” — Lola

To download using Windows “right click” and save to disk. Mac users, you know what to do.


The owner of the music store forced the employee to pose for this picture against his will. After I was finished everyone looked at the photo and made fun of him, poor guy.

The following video of “Manahirana” is a good example of the fashions worn outside of the capital. You’ll notice the skirts are similar to kangas worn in East Africa, particularly Zanzibar. Woven straw hats are popular in Madagascar and come in countless shapes and colors. I spotted the square woven hats worn by the women in this video on two people in Madagascar and liked them so much I tried to find out where to buy one, showing the sketch I drew to people around the market. I was told the hat is from Fianarantsoa, the largest town South of the capital.

I also stumbled upon the video for song #1 (I Gasikara) on the mix. It’s a great overview of Madagascar, excluding the National Parks and the hard to reach South. Lola starts out in the Northwest tip of Madagascar on an Island called Nosy Be. Most people who go on “holiday” to Madagascar stop in a National Park to see a lemur and then head up to Nosy Be. Even I wouldn’t take the bus (more of a truck, really) up there because of the awful roads. There’s now direct flights from France to Nosy Be, bypassing the capital entirely.

Next Lola pops up in Antananarivo, the capital, to dance down the main street in town in front of the train station. I bought my first copy of Lola’s music just to his left in front of the Air Mad office. This is not an area to be wandering alone at night.

He then continues down the Route National 7 South, stopping in many of the same towns I visited on my trip. He makes his way by road all the way to Tulear in the Southwest and then heads North to the beach town of Ifaty. From Tulear I headed South instead, to Anakao because it was supposed to be more deserted. The roads you see him walking down are the same I drove in for six hours at a time in a packed minibus.

Touring the Middle East

Posted by on Apr 5, 2008 in Post-Trip | 6 Comments

I knew the U.S. Military was desperate for recruits but I didn’t know how much so.

This morning I got a call from a woman inquiring about my “interest in the military.” Apparently I was put on a list as someone who “indicated an interest in the military.” Fess up, which one of you signed me up? I simply laughed and asked her if it was a crank call. She was nice about it but couldn’t explain how a thirty year-old liberal woman got on the list. If they want to recruit me to be a spy they need to be upfront about it. I admit that 50% of “normal” Americans I meet think I’m in the CIA already but I swear it’s not true! I wonder if this is because I listed Delta Force as one of my favorite movies on Facebook? I admit I’ve always wanted to go to Lebanon, but not as part of an “elite strike force.”

Me-go Mix: Track 5

Posted by on Mar 28, 2008 in China, Post-Trip | 6 Comments

Me-go Mix: Track 5
“Superstar” — S.H.E. (???)

This song was everywhere during my first trip to China in Phase I. It was blasting from every other storefront, sung by teenagers walking down the street and playing every time I turned on the TV. S.H.E., a Taiwanese trio formed from the winners of a singing contest, was huge in China. Although this is the only song I heard of theirs they have apparently released ten albums and amassed 4.5 million in sales. That’s no flash in the pan.

The Superstar video

Site Housekeeping

Posted by on Mar 27, 2008 in Post-Trip | 8 Comments

I am in the process of doing a little housekeeping on this blog and the supporting pages. I appreciate that so many of you have written to tell me how well-organized the site is, but there must be something that is hard to find or confusing. As a usability test I’d appreciate any feedback on things that could be done to make the site even better. This is your chance to complain about my navigation or even to yell at me to write the “country profiles” or finish the last few African maps in the route section. Although I’m mostly interested in the design, usability and navigation of the site I’ll take whatever you got.

The upcoming release of WordPress 2.5 (the software that powers my blog) is the main reason I’ve decided to address the design. I’m running an older version that has become a little broken over time, which is why my subscriptions don’t work as they should. If you would like to unsubscribe from Me-go updates please send me an email or comment and I will manually take you off. The current system isn’t working properly and I don’t want to be the cause of unwanted email. With my recent increase in posting I can understand that those of you that were happy with an email every three weeks aren’t so happy with an email every three days. My policy is that my immediate family (mom, brother and sister) are not allowed to unsubscribe. Everyone else, even family, will incur no bad feelings for unsubscribing. My immediate family doesn’t actually incur bad feelings either, they just get resubscribed!

Update: If you would like to keep your subscription but change your email address contact me as well. It’s an easy change on my end.

Cartwheeling Back to 1998

Posted by on Mar 25, 2008 in Post-Trip | 3 Comments

The streets are empty around my neck of the woods and it seems everyone’s left for spring break. I was thinking about my trip around Europe during spring break in 1998 and took a look at my gigantic photo albums. Some of you may have heard me reference my cartwheel photos before, although I often don’t post them here. Many of my cartwheel photos from that trip were shot in multiple frames, like a collage. I have to say, I don’t miss film! Here’s two of my “spring break 1998” cartwheels:

Taken in Marienplatz, the main square of downtown Munich, Germany. I think my travel wardrobe has become much more conservative over the years. You can see I brought a translucent orange raincoat with me on this trip. Even that wasn’t as bad at the bright red pants I wore in Peru a few years later.

Where’s Megan? I’m right in front, look closer. This is the Durmo in Florence, Italy. I remember being impressed by it’s size. The sign at the top of this shot is proof that professional photographers are not always the best cartwheel photographers.

Me-go Mix: Track 4

Posted by on Mar 23, 2008 in India, Post-Trip | No Comments

Me-go Mix: Track 4
“Raat Baaki” — DJ Akbar Sami

To download using Windows “right click” and save to disk. Mac users, you know what to do.


Chowpatty Beach in Mumbai (Bombay) at sunset. Behind me is a busy six lane road, a Baskin Robbins and a Levi’s store. Despite that, this scene feels like it fits the song.

One of my last stops in India was Bangalore where I stocked up on guidebooks for Jordan and Egypt. At the bottom of my shopping bag among half a dozen glossy flyers and ads was a free CD sampler featuring remixed songs from popular movies. “Raat Baaki” is a remix of a song from the 1982 Hindi Bollywood film Namak Halaal. Here’s a link to a short scene from the movie where the original version of “Raat Baaki” is sung. Below is a short live version of the song with different singers than my mp3.

Me-go Mix: Track 3

Posted by on Mar 20, 2008 in China, Mongolia, Post-Trip | 6 Comments

Me-go Mix: Track 3
“Ji Xiang San Bao (?????)” — Burenbayaer

To download using Windows “right click” and save to disk. Mac users, you know what to do.

If there’s one song that reminds me of my recent travels in China it’s Ji Xiang San Bao. During 2004’s Phase I, a handful of pop songs were constantly blasting from storefronts. There was no song that assaulted me at the same level during Phase II. In fact, the area of China I visited during Phase II seemed altogether quiet compared to Beijing and Xi’an.

Although Ji Xiang San Bao wasn’t blasted into my memory it quietly crept in. Walking down the street I would hear the chorus and on an overnight sleeper bus I was woken by a child’s voice squeaking out “mama?” I swear ever other man in Northwest China had this song as his phone’s ringtone. “That doesn’t sound so bad,” you might say, “ringtones usually only play for a few seconds.” That’s true in many places, but these men enjoyed the song so much they always let it play the entire length before answering their phone.


See that man on the bottom checking his phone? Imagine being on this bus for 12 hours with this ringtone going off at the highest volume every ten minutes.

Despite it’s popularity, I had trouble tracking down the title and musician for this song. It was given to me by a Korean tourist who had bought a Tibetan CD with the song in Lhasa. He insisted it was Tibetan but I knew it couldn’t be. I finally found out the name from an English traveler I met in Kyrgyzstan who’s now living in Beijing. It’s always nice to have friends around the world, thanks Gabriel!

During my research I discovered that the song initially gained popularity in 2005, spreading around the internet. Some sources call it a “traditional Mongolian ballad” but it’s origins are not clear. Burenbayaer may be from Inner Mongolia, a province of China. The version I’m giving you is sung in Mongolian but I suspect the versions I heard in China were recorded in Mandarin, like parts of the You Tube videos below.

This version starts out in Mongolian and then switches to Chinese (Mandarin) around 2:00.

This version starts in Chinese and then goes into Mongolian around 1:45. It also has small children dressed as sheep which is always entertaining.

Me-go Mix: Track 2

Posted by on Mar 15, 2008 in Post-Trip, Rwanda | 5 Comments

Me-go Mix: Track 2
“Amanda” — Javex

To download using Windows “right click” and save to disk. Mac users, you know what to do.

My first morning in Kigali, Rwanda, Grace and I woke up to a man knocking on our hotel room door. It was the hotel manager, insisting in broken English, that there was a man waiting for us in reception. Despite my insistence that I don’t know any men in Rwanda, the manager was equally insistent that there was an American man upstairs that needed to see us at eight in the morning. I asked for his name and a slip of paper with an unfamiliar name was returned. Grace eventually figured out that our early morning visitor was an Israeli man she had met in Uganda.

We had lots of errands to run, most importantly getting our hands on some local currency, but Grace’s friend insisted on breakfast first. It was in a small basement restaurant eating an omelet that I first heard “Amanda.” I liked the energy of the song and it immediately made me think about my good friend back home named Amanda. Our waiter didn’t speak English (one reason for the omelet, which translates accurately in most languages) so I approached the most well-dressed man behind the counter, pointed to the air and said “music?”

He spoke English, uncommon for Rwanda, but didn’t know who the song was by. The rest of the staff bustled around me exchanging confused looks. He explained that the song wasn’t on a CD or the radio, it was playing off the computer. Without missing a beat he suggested that he give me the mp3 if I liked it so much. I grabbed my USB flash drive from my daybag (yes, along with a compass and a knife, a flash drive is part of my daily kit) and handed it over. My flash drive usually serves to transfer non-sensitive files between my Mac and public PCs running Windows on the road. Naturally, it was riddled with viruses that don’t show up on Macs (and I can’t see) so the man cleaned the drive of viruses before uploaded the mp3. Although Rwandans appear more reserved than Kenyans and Ugandans they are friendly once you get to talking.

It should be noted that, although I found the song in Rwanda, “Amanda” isn’t a Rwandan song. The lyrics are Swahili (Rwandans speak Kinyarwanda and French) and the restaurant manager guessed that it was from either Kenya or Tanzania. Sounds good to me! Please leave a comment below to tell me what you think.


The main bus station in Kigali—a twenty minute downhill walk from our hotel.

Me-go Mix: Track 1

Posted by on Mar 12, 2008 in Madagascar, Post-Trip | 4 Comments

I want to thank all of you who voted to send me to Martinique in February. Although the results have been delayed for some reason, I am fairly certain that I did not win. I had a solid, steady pace throughout the month only to be suddenly surpassed in the last two days by a few bloggers who suddenly amassed as much as 1,000 votes overnight. We did our best!

To thank all of my regular readers I’ve put together a seventeen song mix of music that I bought during my two RTW trips. A new mp3 will be available for download every few days. If you download leave a note in the comments and tell me what you think.

Me-go Mix: Track 1
“I Gasikara” — Lola

To download using Windows “right click” and save to disk. Mac users, you know what to do.

Madagascar’s music scene is full of local talent. Walking around town, the songs seeping out of storefronts and blaring from boom boxes are more likely to be in Malagasy than English or French. On the African mainland I heard Shakira or Diddy more often than anything sung in Swahili. Most Malagasy music is either upbeat like this track from Lola or a ballad. I decided to go for the fun stuff. I’ve been told that Lola is one of the most popular artists in Madagascar. When I asked for a translation of the title I was told “I Gasikara” means “Madagascar” and that the song was about his love for the country. It’s certainly catchy—you might just find yourself singing along even though you don’t know the words.

I also stumbled upon the video for “I Gasikara.” It’s a great overview of Madagascar, excluding the National Parks and the hard to reach South. Lola starts out in the Northwest tip of Madagascar on an Island called Nosy Be. Most people who go on “holiday” to Madagascar stop in a National Park to see a lemur and then head up to Nosy Be. Even I wouldn’t take the bus (more of a truck, really) up there because of the awful roads. There’s now direct flights from France to Nosy Be, bypassing the capital entirely.

Next Lola pops up in Antananarivo, the capital, to dance down the main street in town in front of the train station. I bought my first copy of Lola’s music just to his left in front of the Air Mad office. This is not an area to be wandering alone at night.

He then continues down the Route National 7 South, stopping in many of the same towns I visited on my trip. He makes his way by road all the way to Tulear in the Southwest and then heads North to the beach town of Ifaty. From Tulear I headed South instead, to Anakao because it was supposed to be more deserted. The roads you see him walking down are the same I drove in for six hours at a time in a packed minibus.

Final Day to Vote in Martinique Contest

Posted by on Feb 28, 2008 in Post-Trip | 4 Comments

This is just a reminder that the travel writing contest I’ve been participating in ends today, the 28th of February. Despite my recent lead in voting, I’ve suddenly fallen behind by about 350 votes in the past two days. If you haven’t already voted for my story please spare a minute to head over to the French Tourism Board site and vote. If you’ve already voted or received a reminder email today I apologize for the spamming!

Once you go to the site my story, Spa Day in Tajikistan usually shows up on the right hand side of the page. Just click on the story and then click on the 5 stars to vote. The prize is a trip to Martinique, which sounds pretty good right about now. We’re expecting even more snow in Chicago tonight. Click this link or the banner on the right to vote.

Thanks!

Load More