Hi, I’m Suze Coleman, a musician and art lover from Manchester, U.K. I’ve just returned from a two-week trip to Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’ve always been fascinated by Asian culture, history, and art, and this trip was my dream come true. I got to see some of the most beautiful and inspiring places, meet some of the most friendly and hospitable people, and taste some of the most delicious and diverse cuisines.
But as a musician, I also wanted to stay in touch with the current sounds and ideas from around the world, and also learn more about the local music scenes and traditions in the countries I visited. So, I spent a lot of time curating the right mix of music, podcasts, and audiobooks that would help me do that. I wanted to create a playlist that would reflect my mood, my curiosity, and my appreciation for each destination, and also help me pass the time while traveling.
And now that I’m back, I want to share my playlist with you. Maybe you’re planning to visit these countries yourself, or maybe you’re just interested in discovering some new and exciting sounds and stories. Either way, I hope you’ll enjoy my playlist as much as I did. Here are some of the highlights from my playlist, and why I chose them.
Japan was the first stop on my trip, and I was blown away by the contrast between the modern and the traditional, the urban and the natural, and the familiar and the exotic. I wanted to capture that contrast in my playlist, and also learn more about the history, culture, and language of Japan.
- Abroad in Japan: This is one of my favorite podcasts about Japan, hosted by Chris Broad, an independent filmmaker who has been living in Japan for over eight years. He and his co-host Pete Donaldson cover a variety of topics, from the latest news and trends, to the most bizarre and hilarious stories, to the most useful and practical tips and advice. They also interview guests who have interesting and unique perspectives on Japan, such as authors, celebrities, and locals. I learned a lot from listening to this podcast, and I also laughed a lot. It’s a great way to get a taste of life in Japan, from the most unique country in the world.
- Lost Japan by Alex Kerr: This is an audiobook that I listened to while traveling around Japan, and it was a perfect companion. It’s a memoir by Alex Kerr, an American writer and scholar who has lived in Japan for over 40 years. He shares his personal experiences and observations of Japan, from the ancient temples and gardens, to the modern cities and pop culture, to the hidden rural villages and natural landscapes. He also explores the changes and challenges that Japan has faced in the past and present, and offers his insights and opinions on the future of Japan. It’s a fascinating and captivating listen, that shows the beauty and complexity of Japan.
- J-Pop: Of course, I couldn’t go to Japan without listening to some J-Pop, the popular music genre that has taken the world by storm. J-Pop is a blend of various musical styles, such as rock, pop, hip-hop, R&B, and electronic, and it features catchy melodies, upbeat rhythms, and colorful visuals. Some of the J-Pop artists that I enjoyed listening to were Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Perfume, Babymetal, and One OK Rock. They all have their own distinctive sound and style, and they all showcase the creativity and diversity of J-Pop. J-Pop is a great way to get in the mood for Japan, and to have some fun and energy.
Thailand was the second stop on my trip, and I was enchanted by the warmth and hospitality of the people, the richness and spirituality of the culture, and the vibrancy and diversity of the food. I wanted to reflect that warmth, richness, and vibrancy in my playlist, and also learn more about the history, religion, and politics of Thailand.
- The Bangkok Podcast: This is another podcast that I loved listening to while in Thailand, hosted by Greg Jorgensen and Ed Knuth, two expats who have been living in Bangkok for over 20 years. They discuss a wide range of topics, from the most interesting and useful aspects of living in Bangkok, to the most controversial and complex issues facing Thailand, to the most fun and quirky things to do and see in Bangkok. They also interview guests who have expert knowledge or personal stories about Thailand, such as journalists, activists, entrepreneurs, and travelers. I learned a lot from listening to this podcast, and I also got a lot of tips and recommendations for my trip. It’s a great way to get to know Bangkok, and Thailand, better.
- The Beach by Alex Garland: This is an audiobook that I listened to while traveling around Thailand, and it was a thrilling and thought-provoking listen. It’s a novel by Alex Garland, a British writer and filmmaker who is also known for The Tesseract and Ex Machina. It tells the story of Richard, a young backpacker who travels to Thailand in search of adventure and paradise. He finds a map to a hidden island, where a small community of travelers live in a secret beach, away from the rest of the world. He joins them, and discovers a seemingly idyllic and utopian life, but soon realizes that there is a dark and dangerous side to it. It’s a gripping and suspenseful listen, that explores the themes of travel, escapism, and human nature.
- Thai Music: And of course, I couldn’t go to Thailand without listening to some Thai music, the traditional and modern music genre that reflects the culture and identity of Thailand. Thai music is a mix of various musical influences, such as folk, classical, pop, rock, and hip-hop, and it features distinctive instruments, such as the khim, the ranat, and the saw. Some of the Thai music artists that I enjoyed listening to were Bodyslam, Palmy, Stamp, and Thaitanium. They all have their own unique sound and style, and they all showcase the talent and diversity of Thai music. Thai music is a great way to get in touch with the culture and spirit of Thailand, and to have some fun and joy.
Vietnam was the third and final stop on my trip, and I was impressed by the resilience and optimism of the people, the beauty and history of the land, and the freshness and flavor of the cuisine. I wanted to capture that resilience, beauty, and freshness in my playlist, and also learn more about the past, present, and future of Vietnam.
- The Renovation Generation: This is a podcast that I discovered while in Vietnam, and I was hooked by the stories and voices of the people. It’s a podcast by Heiko Khoo and Fabiola Buchele, two journalists who have been living and working in Vietnam for several years. They interview young Vietnamese people who are part of the “renovation generation”, the generation that grew up after the economic reforms of 1986, and who are shaping the future of Vietnam. They talk about their dreams, passions, challenges, and achievements, in various fields such as art, business, education, and activism. I learned a lot from listening to this podcast, and I also felt inspired and moved by the people. It’s a great way to get a glimpse of the new and emerging Vietnam, and the potential and hope of the people.
- The Quiet American by Graham Greene: This is an audiobook that I listened to while traveling around Vietnam, and it was a fascinating and insightful listen. It’s a novel by Graham Greene, a British writer and journalist who is also known for The End of the Affair and The Power and the Glory. It tells the story of Fowler, a British reporter who is covering the French war in Vietnam in the 1950s, and Pyle, an American agent who is involved in a covert operation to support a third force in Vietnam. They become friends, but also rivals, as they both fall in love with the same Vietnamese woman, Phuong. It’s a compelling and complex listen, that explores the themes of war, politics, love, and morality.
- Vietnamese Music: And of course, I couldn’t go to Vietnam without listening to some Vietnamese music, the traditional and contemporary music genre that reflects the soul and identity of Vietnam. Vietnamese music is a blend of various musical influences, such as folk, classical, pop, rock, and rap, and it features expressive vocals, melodies, and lyrics. Some of the Vietnamese music artists that I enjoyed listening to were My Tam, Son Tung M-TP, Suboi, and Phuong Ly. They all have their own distinctive sound and style, and they all showcase the creativity and diversity of Vietnamese music. Vietnamese music is a great way to get in touch with the soul and identity of Vietnam, and to have some fun and emotion.
So, that was my playlist from my two-week Asian trip. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you’ll give some of these music, podcasts, and audiobooks a try. Maybe they’ll inspire you to visit these countries yourself, or maybe they’ll just enrich your listening experience. Either way, I hope you’ll have as much fun and learning as I did. Happy listening! 🎧