Category Archives: Travel and Tourism

Information about Places and Events

The Brazilian Cuica and How It’s Played

The Brazilian Cuica is a percussion instrument that makes one of the most unique and fascinating sounds in all of music. “Cuica” is a Portuguese word, pronounced kuweeca“. If you’re not sure what it is, you have probably heard one in a song, and simply didn’t know it was a cuica. Especially if you like samba or other Brazilian music. Stories vary as to the exact origin of the Cuica. However, most researchers agree that it can be traced back to the Bantu speaking tribes of Central and Southern Africa, whose culture was interrupted by the  slave trade – particularly that of the Spanish and Portuguese. The  cuica (or its predecessor) is said to have been used as a male lion call. Since it’s timbre mimics the tones of the female lion during mating season.
In this video, Kurt Rasmussen gives a great demonstration on how the cuica is played. And then goes into further detail on how the distinct sound of the cuica instrument is achieved. If you are looking to purchase a cuica, click here or on the image below the video, to shop great deals. Thanks for stopping by!

by Ken Omega

Kurt Rasmussen demonstrates the Brazilian Cuica percussion instrument.

 

A Hut on the Beach in Thailand

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Back when I visited Thailand some years ago, my travel companion and I decided to try and find someplace remote and adventuresome to seek out. She had flown from England, and I from the United States. Prior to arriving and meeting in Bangkok, we had both done some reading up on general info regarding our Southeast Asia trip. After some discussion about the places we had researched – while sitting in the lounge of the guest house where we were staying in Bangkok, we agreed on an island called Koh Chang.

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Koh Chang, Thailand is not the easiest place in the world to get to. Not even from Bangkok – the center of Siam. Nonetheless, we went for it. And the destination was absolutely worth the trip, the highlights of which are included here. Our adventure  went something  like this…

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photo courtesy of pattayaconcierge.com

We took a bus from Khao San Road in Bangkok – a popular jumping off point for backpackers – for an eight hour ride to Trat Province via Rayong and Chanthaburi.

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Route from Bangkok to Koh Chang

After winding our way out of the urban areas, the better part of that journey was dirt roads with vistas of rice fields, a mountainous backdrop, and villagers with assault rifles slung over their shoulders, walking the road alongside cattle. It was like being transported back in time. Then, after arriving in Trat Province, there was a 30 minute ferry ride out into the Gulf of Thailand to reach our destination.

Photo Courtesy of Bangkok Post
Photo Courtesy of Bangkok Post




Upon docking in Koh Chang, there was another 45 minute or so winding and hilly jitney ride, to get to the resort area. As luck would have it, by the time we arrived, the office of the only resort with any rooms available, was closed. Night was falling fast. And, not knowing our way around, we decided to stay put and camp out on the deck of the resort office. This way we could be among the first to cue for a room in the morning.

The main reception deck of the resort in Koh Chang where we stayed.
The main reception deck of the resort in Koh Chang where we stayed.

The deck was perched right on the beach. And the temperature was a balmy 75 degrees after sundown. So I suppose there could have been worse accommodations for a night.

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© Ken Omega 2016

Finally, at sunrise, we collected our things, checked in and got our hut. It was only a few paces from the beach. Inside, the shelter held little more than a mattress with a bug net, some space along the sides to move about and stow our things, a window, and a small front porch. We slept to the nearby sound of soft waves. It was great!

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So many sights are around for one to take in on a Thailand expedition such as this. There isn’t enough room here to show all of the great photographs that we took. But I have included a couple…

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Koh Chang in Thai means “Elephant Island”. Rumors abound as to how it got this name. And even though there are no elephant species that are indigenous to Koh Chang. There are still plenty on the island for animal lovers to see and enjoy.

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Our stay in Koh Chang lasted four days. We were only in Thailand for two and a half weeks. And there were a lot of other things to see and do. But it was a memorable visit. And I would recommend a stay on Elephant Island to anyone planning to visit that part of Southeast Asia.

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Depending on your country of origin, there may be visa issues that you will need to investigate and attend to before starting your journey. So be sure and do you homework. And seeing a physician before traveling, to get properly inoculated, is a prudent measure as well. If you plan accordingly, you will have a great time and an experience to remember. So by all means, when you can, get to Thailand, visit Koh Chang, and stay in a hut on the beach.

by Ken Omega

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My traveling companion Fiona and I were actually in Siam Reap, Cambodia in this photo. After leaving Koh Chang, we were so close to the Cambodian border, that we decided to visit there for a few days before heading back to Bangkok. This was another amazing leg of our journey through Thailand, that I will write about soon.

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Ipanema Beach at Twilight

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This photo was taken in March of 2016. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil is a must see. I wouldn’t go during the 2016 Olympics though – unless you plan to attend the games. Hotels and everything else would be way too expensive. Why pay triple?! But I’ll bet if you plan for right after the games when the crowds wane, you’ll get a great deal. Ipanema Beach is walking distance from Copacabana. And it is every bit as lovely as the famous song would have one imagine.

© Ken Omega Ltd MMXVI