Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

A trip to the homeland of Kala-niño, my Kala pocket uke

30 2010

I am just back from my express trip to the Middle Kingdom, totally burnt out after enduring the 6-hour-time difference twice in the last 6 days, and still suffering from motion sickness dizziness several days after being back.

Yet I am really glad to be back in touch with my fellow ukulele bloggers and readers, catching up on all the interesting posts I couldn’t access from China. I found out that my blog fell under the mighty censorship there too. I never realised that my writings were subversive… actually that most ukulele bloggers’ writings were too.

This explains why there has been no Weekly World Tour post last week, much against my will.

Anyhow, my very recently acquired Kala-niño (my Kala pocket uke) has made its pilgrimage to the land where it was made and I was very happy to have it around to fill my sleepless hours with its reassuring presence and joyful sound. I got to know it pretty well during this past week where I really discovered how to adapt my playing to its very small size.

Here it is, sweet and tiny, overlooking the streets of Beijing very early in the morning.

In case you are wondering why motion sickness is such an issue in China, this video should give you a pretty good idea what it’s like to be driven around Beijing. Add to this a really bumpy flight back home and you get the full picture. I wonder how it is possible to teach anyone to drive there. Are there any set of rules ?

I’m still wondering how I came out alive :)

For a nature-lover prone to contemplative moods like myself, the big cities of China and the constant sound of car horns and traffic buzz tend to be rather overwhelming, bringing to mind the following words from Azathoth by HP Lovecraft:

When age fell upon the world, and wonder went out of the minds of men; when grey cities reared to smoky skies tall towers grim and ugly, in whose shadow none might dream of the sun or of Spring’s flowering meads; when learning stripped the Earth of her mantle of beauty and poets sang no more of twisted phantoms seen with bleared and inward looking eyes; when these things had come to pass, and childish hopes had gone forever, there was a man who traveled out of life on a quest into spaces whither the world’s dreams had fled.

Of the name and abode of this man little is written, for they were of the waking world only; yet it is said that both were obscure. It is enough to say that he dwelt in a city of high walls where sterile twilight reigned, that he toiled all day among shadow and turmoil, coming home at evening to a room whose one window opened not to open fields and groves but on to a dim court where other windows stared in dull despair. From that casement one might see only walls and windows, except sometimes when one leaned so far out and peered at the small stars that passed. And because mere walls and windows must soon drive a man to madness who dreams and reads much, the dweller in that room used night after night to lean out and peer aloft to glimpse some fragment of things beyond the waking world and the tall cities.[…]

Just to prove my point, here are some pictures of tall towers, some with a very interesting architecture that seems to defy common building rules  :

And this is what a burnt tower looks like…

Incidentally, the domain has been registered exactly a year ago today (although I started blogging about the ukulele in June 2008) and the number of visitors has increased steadily ever since, encouraging me to carry on in my quest for ukulele videos from around the world.

Since the 30th of August 2009, according to Google Analytics, Ukulele & Languages has received over 25 600 visits from 133 different countries. I am very pleased by the number of different countries who land on this blog.  Just seeing the names of all the countries far and near is enough to keep me travelling ! Thank you all !


  1. Craig Robertson on the 30th of August 2010 @ 21:19

    Yow! You quoted Lovecraft! You get two points for truly arcane hipness…

  2. Armelle Europe on the 30th of August 2010 @ 21:57

    Craig: Thank you :) Arcane hipness is cool. I am quite pleased with my quote too, I felt exactly like ‘the dweller in that room’.

  3. Ken Keenan on the 30th of August 2010 @ 23:18

    The buildings remind me of something from another H.P. Lovecraft story, “The Call of Cthulhu”:

    “When [Johansen] spoke of the city… instead of describing any definite structure or building, he dwells only on the broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces– surfaces too great to belong to anything right and proper for this earth… I mention his talk about angles because it suggests something Wilcox had told me of his awful dreams. He said the geometry of the dream-place was abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours”.


  4. Armelle Europe on the 30th of August 2010 @ 23:38

    Ken: ooh, I guess you too get your share of arcane hipness points with your quote :) It is a very fit description of the tower on pictures 1 and 3:)

  5. Herman Vandecauter on the 31st of August 2010 @ 09:46

    Nice to see you did survive China! I’m also just back from Dresden!

  6. Armelle Europe on the 31st of August 2010 @ 13:40

    Herman: welcome back! I hope the concert in Dresden went well. Mail me some pictures if you have any.

  7. Ron Hale on the 31st of August 2010 @ 22:41

    Best wishes on the new arrival, Armelle. And it does look right at home, doesn’t it? I had to look this up on a quote site, so no hipness for me, and I’m sure H.P. wasn’t referencing (in advance) your travels, but he did say –

    “But are not the dreams of poets and the tales
    of travelers notoriously false?”

  8. Armelle Europe on the 31st of August 2010 @ 23:11

    Ron: Thanks for the best wishes. I believe that the more you travel, the more you become aware of your roots and the more you value the things that you took for granted.
    And you do get some points too for commenting.

  9. Devillebichot on the 15th of September 2010 @ 21:19

    Happy you came back alive from China !! Your driver could also have phoned at the same time as he was driving … so lucky you !!!

  10. Armelle Europe on the 15th of September 2010 @ 21:39

    Catherine : Glad to read a comment from you :)
    The driver did actually phone while driving on several occasions but not when I filmed. When you think that nobody uses safety belts there. Well, I sure did! Yay for being alive!

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